Asthma

WHAT IS ASTHMA?

Asthma is a chronic condition in which the airways become inflamed and may swell and produce extra mucus. When the airways, which allow air to enter and exit the lungs, are constricted, it can cause you to begin coughing or wheezing, and in some cases may feel a shortness of breath. Cases of Asthma can range from mild to severe, and can be life threatening.

There are several kinds of asthma that be caused by different triggers. The most common forms of asthma include:

Allergic/ Non-Allergic Asthma:

Allergic Asthma is the most common form of asthma, and is caused by inhaling allergens. Both allergic, and non-allergic asthma present with many of the same symptoms, but have different causes. Allergic asthma is caused when allergens are inhaled, causing the air passages to become inflamed. Allergic asthma is triggered by factors such as food allergies, pollen, and other allergy irritants. Non allergic asthma can be triggered by factors such as changes in weather, cold air, exercise, and triggers like dust, air pollution, or smoke. This can lead to the coughing and wheezing that is associated with asthma.

Adult-Onset Asthma:

Symptoms do not appear until adulthood, and is typically diagnosed past the age of 20. It is common for someone with adult-onset asthma to also suffer from allergies. Both may be caused by life-style environments like the home, or work place. Some people are at a higher risk of developing adult-onset asthma, including women who are experiencing hormonal changes such as pregnancy, or menopause; women who are taking estrogen after menopause; those who have experienced viruses or illnesses like influenza or the common cold; those with allergies; those who experience chronic heart burn and acid reflux; and those who have been exposed to triggers like mold, dust, perfume, and other irritants.

Occupational Asthma:

Occupational Asthma is caused by inhaling irritants while at an occupation that requires working around triggers such as chemical fumes, gasses, dust. Those who struggle with allergies are more likely to develop asthma in the workplace. In cases of occupational asthma, your symptoms may likely come and go when exposed to a trigger, or may get worse as the week continues and you are further exposed to irritants. Occupational asthma can continue to cause symptoms even after you are away from the irritant, and can exist longer if you were exposed to the irritant for a long period of time.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ASTHMA?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the airway linings
  • Production of mucus
  • Tightness in chest
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing

HOW IS ASTHMA TREATED?

While there is no cure for asthma, its symptoms can be managed by avoiding triggers that aggravate your asthma, or using an inhaler during a flare-up to provide relief of symptoms. Common triggers of asthma include but aren’t limited to: seasonal allergies, smoke, dust mites, fragrances, mold, pet dander, and air pollution. Your health provider can work with you to determine your triggers, and help eliminate them to improve symptoms.

In some cases, Asthma can be severe, and may require medical attention. You should see your provider immediately if:

  • You develop a worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
  • You get no relief after using an inhaler
  • You are short of breath while doing minimal physical activity.