Asthma is a chronic life-long condition where a person finds it difficult to breathe because the tubes that take air into the lungs swell up. This reaction is caused because the airway comes in contact with an asthma trigger (an allergen) that causes it to swell up. Although asthma can be managed to live a normal healthy lifestyle, the more one learns about their condition, the better they can manage their condition to maintain their quality of life.
The causes of asthma could include the following:
Asthma has been seen to run in families. If both parents have asthma, it is most likely their children will also have asthma.
Pollen allergies have been seen to be the most common cause of asthma worldwide, though dust allergies have been seen to come close in comparison to this. These allergies are external or extrinsic. Internal or intrinsic asthma is cause when a reaction takes place when one inhales a chemical substance such as cigarette smoke, paint vapours, etc. Most of these reactions can also be affected by emotional responses such as stress and panic.
As the lungs develop in infancy and early childhood there are certain respiratory infections that have been shown to cause inflammation and damage the lung tissue. The damage to the lung tissue caused in infancy and early childhood can impact lung-function long-term
Some of the symptoms of asthma are:
- Cough with or without sputum (phlegm) production
- Chest tightness – pulling in of the skin between the ribs when breathing
- Wheezing – a musical, whistling or hissing sound with breathing.
- Begins suddenly
- Comes in episodes with symptom-free periods in between
- Worse at night or early in the morning
- May subside on its own
- Gets worse with exercise and heartburn
- Gets better with drugs that open the airways
Most of these reactions can also be affected by emotional responses such as stress and panic. The responses to the allergens can be of two types: delayed hypersensitive response (where the person experiences symptoms after a long period of time) and an instant hypersensitive response (where the person immediately develops symptoms to the allergen). Despite the severity of the reaction, care must be taken to treat the individual involved.