Asthma

15 May 2019

ABSTRACT –

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease in which airways swell, narrow down and produce extra mucus which makes the person difficult to breathe. It causes continuous episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and frequent coughing. It cannot be cured but it can be controlled.

Asthma is clinically classified as:

  • Frequency of Symptoms
  • Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1)
  • Peak expiratory Flow rate

Asthma can also be classified as:

  • Atopic (Extrinsic)
  • Non-atopic (Intrinsic)

CAUSES –

The causes are not specified as such but it is probably caused by mixture of genetic and environmental factors. Exposure to multiple substances that can trigger allergies (allergens) and irritants like

  • Allergens in air such as pollen, mold, dust, smoke etc
  • Common cold and cold air
  • Exercise-induced wheezing
  • Certain medications, including beta blockers and NSAIDs
  • Stress and strong emotions
  • Preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages
  • Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and stomach acids
  • Menstrual cycle in some women

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS –

  • Breathlessness and chest pain
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Trouble in sleeping because of coughing or wheezing which gets worsened by respiratory infections
  • More frequent asthma attacks and difficulty in breathing
  • More usage of quick relief inhaler

DIAGNOSIS –

The tests for that includes:

  • Spirometry
  • Sputum Eosinophils
  • Peak flow meter followed with Lung function tests
  • Methacholine challenge and Nitric oxide test
  • Allergy testing
  • Imaging and Provocative testing

TREATMENT –

Prevention and control measures are important to prevent Asthma to occur. Although there are treatments available for existing Asthma patients which includes:-

  • Lifestyle Modification
  • Medications and oxygen supply to alleviate hypoxia
  • Stay away from dust and polluted areas
  • Bronchial thermoplasty for severe Asthma
  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal and natural remedies
  • Breathing and relaxation techniques

RISK FACTORS –

  • Genetics
  • Active and Passive Smoking
  • Other allergic and respiratory infections
  • Overweight
  • Smoking during pregnancy can cause the child to suffer from Asthma
  • Pollutants
  • Chemicals used in farming, hairdressing and manufacturing
  • Exposure to allergens, exposure to certain germs or parasites, and having some types of bacterial or viral infections also may be risk factors.

COMPLICATIONS –

  • Permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes that affects the breathing
  • Emergency hospital visits for severe asthma attacks
  • Long term usage of medicines and its subsequent side effects

EPIDEMIOLOGY –

  • It approximately affects 339 million people every year although mortality has decreased over the last few years due to better recognition, improvement in care and increased reach of medication.
  • Seen more in developed than developing countries.
  • Twice as common in males as in females with more common in young than geriatrics (Older generations).

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