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How Does Asthma Affect The Body Physically

The Effect Of Asthma On Long

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

PrognosisIt passes into the blood by diffusion and is carried around your body to the cells, The lining of the airways becomes swollen or inflamed.How Asthma Affects Your BodyHow Asthma Affects Your Body Asthma is a disease that affects the airways of your lungs, When this inflammation occurs, exercise, emotional

How Do You Monitor Asthma Symptoms

Monitoring your asthma symptoms is an essential piece of managing the disease. Your healthcare provider may have you use a peak flow meter. This device measures how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. It can help your provider make adjustments to your medication. It also tells you if your symptoms are getting worse.

Breathing: Normal Airways Vs Asthma Airways

Normal: In someone with optimal lung function, air is inhaled through the nose and mouth, passing through the trachea before moving into the bronchi . The bronchi branch into smaller tubes, ending in many small sacs called alveoli. Its in the alveoli that oxygen is passed to the blood and carbon dioxide is removed.

Asthma: In someone with asthma, the airways are inflamed, and when triggered, can constrict even more, obstructing airflow to the lungs.

Also Check: Can You Join The Army If You Have Asthma

What Does Asthma Do To Your Body

Have you ever experienced an involuntary sensation of breathlessness? Your chest tightens as your lungs struggle to find air, and you search your pockets for relief in the form of an inhaler. For many people, this occurrence is the result of a common lung disease called asthma.

Your bodys bronchial tubes are responsible for moving air through your lungs. Theyre surrounded by muscles, which, in non-asthma patients, remain still for natural, easy breathing. Once asthma strikes, the bronchial tubes are strained as those nearby muscles tighten. The sensation of breathlessness is no longer just a sensation, but a literal symptom.

If you have asthma, you may know this and related symptoms including chest rattling, coughing and wheezing all too well. Have you ever wondered if your asthma is having long-term effects on your health? What happens to your lungs each time you have an attack? What about the rest of your body? If the answer is yes, youre not alone.

What Happens During An Asthma Attack

Asthma by Jack Boschee
Reviewed byDr Hayley Willacy

Asthma is a common condition that affects the smaller airways . From time to time the airways narrow in people who have asthma. The typical symptoms are wheeze, cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The extent of the narrowing, and how long each episode lasts, can vary greatly.

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Diagnosing Asthma In Children Younger Than 6

It can be hard to tell whether a child under age 6 has asthma or another respiratory condition, because young children often cannot perform a pulmonary function test such as spirometry. After checking a childs history and symptoms, the doctor may try asthma medicines for a few months to see how well a child responds. About 40% of children who wheeze when they get colds or respiratory infections are eventually diagnosed with asthma.

How Do Normal Airways Work

When we breathe in, air moves through our airways from our nose or mouth, down a large hollow tube in the front of the neck called a windpipe or trachea and into our lungs.

The trachea divides into two tubes called bronchial tubes in the lungs. They look like upside-down trees. As the bronchial tubes pass through the lungs, they divide into smaller air passages called bronchioles . At the end of each bronchiole are tiny air sacs that fill up with air, like tiny balloons, each time we breathe in. These are called alveoli .

Air comes into our lungs each time we breathe in. This air has oxygen in it. Oxygen has a special job. It helps feed, or give energy to, all parts of our body so we can walk, talk, eat and exercise.

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How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma

Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, eczema and other lung diseases.

Your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray, blood test or skin test. Your provider may order spirometry. This test measures airflow through your lungs.

The Feelings That Can Come With Asthma

How Asthma Affects the Respiratory System

Asthma doesnt just take a physical toll on those who suffer from it but also an emotional and social one.

Difficulty breathing can be an upsetting experience, especially during an asthma attack. It is common for people to become afraid of dying during these attacks and for them to fear future episodes.

Asthma attacks are also an unpredictable event for many people. And for all people, unpredictable events are usually more stressful than ones you can plan and prepare for. The feeling that an attack can happen at any time can make people with asthma feel like theyre always in danger.

Asthma and stress can work in a cycle. This WebMD article explores this relationship. Asthma is triggered by many things, and one of them is stress, says Pramod Kelkar, M.D.

Kelkar, a fellow with the American Academy of Asthma Allergy and Immunology and a physician at Allergy and Asthma Care in Maple Grove, Minnesota, says in this article that stress can worsen the physical symptoms those with asthma already suffer from. Uncontrolled emotions can work the nerves and cause constriction of muscles, like the smooth muscles of the airways in the lungs. They tighten up and constrict, which can worsen wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness in people with asthma.

And because each persons experience is different, stress isnt the only emotional reaction. Many feel:

  • Fear and anxiety
  • Embarrassment
  • Confusion

Read Also: Can Asthma Symptoms Last For Weeks

Having An Asthma Action Plan

You and your doctor will also put together an asthma action plan. This is a personalised set of instructions that includes a list of your usual asthma medications and doses, guidance on what to do in different situations , and your doctors contact details.

Research For Your Health

The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including asthma. Learn about the current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.

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How Does Asthma Affect The Body

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that causes your airways in the lungs to become narrow, resulting in inflammation and difficulty breathing. It also causes symptoms like wheezing, coughing, breathlessness, and chest tightness. Sometimes, it can even be life-threatening. There is no cure for asthma you can only try to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks and alleviate the symptoms.

What Is An Asthma Action Plan

Respiratory system and circulatory system working together ...

Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop an asthma action plan. This plan tells you how and when to use your medicines. It also tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse and when to seek emergency care. Understand the plan and ask your healthcare provider about anything you dont understand.

Also Check: Ways To Help Asthma

Can Asthma Get Worse At Different Times In My Life

There are certain stages in your life that might affect your asthma. For example, some women find that being pregnant can make asthma either better or worse and hormonal changes, at puberty, menopause or during the menstrual cycle might have an impact too.

There are lots of other life changes that might temporarily affect your asthma symptoms. Stress, for example, whether from a relationship breakdown or family illness, can make symptoms worse.

Having frequent asthma attacks can also make asthma worse over time. Asthma attacks can cause scarring in your airways which makes them narrower. This is sometimes called airway remodelling.

If your airways are scarred and narrow, youre more likely to have worse symptoms more often.

How Asthma Is Treated

While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.

Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:

  • relieving symptoms
  • preventing future symptoms and attacks

For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.

You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.

These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.

Read our page on the causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.

Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.

Read Also: Can A Person With Asthma Smoke Weed

Causes And Triggers Of Asthma

Asthma is caused by swelling of the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. This makes the tubes highly sensitive, so they temporarily narrow.

It may happen randomly or after exposure to a trigger.

Common asthma triggers include:

  • allergies
  • smoke, pollution and cold air
  • exercise
  • infections like colds or flu

Identifying and avoiding your asthma triggers can help you keep your symptoms under control.

The Effects Of Anxiety On The Body

What is asthma? | Respiratory system diseases | NCLEX-RN | Khan Academy

Anxiety is a normal part of life. For example, you may have felt anxiety before addressing a group or in a job interview.

In the short term, anxiety increases your breathing and heart rate, concentrating blood flow to your brain, where you need it. This very physical response is preparing you to face an intense situation.

If it gets too intense, however, you might start to feel lightheaded and nauseous. An excessive or persistent state of anxiety can have a devastating effect on your physical and mental health.

Anxiety disorders can happen at any stage of life, but they usually begin by middle age. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, says the National Institute of Mental Health .

Stressful life experiences may increase your risk for an anxiety disorder, too. Symptoms may begin immediately or years later. Having a serious medical condition or a substance use disorder can also lead to an anxiety disorder.

There are several types of anxiety disorders. They include:

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Asthma Management Can Help

A single individual’s asthma does not necessarily remain in the same category permanently. A person with seasonal asthma triggers may find that at a certain time of year for instance, when ragweed pollen is in the air he or she is in a higher severity group than during the rest of the year.

Asthma that starts during childhood also may become less severe as a person grows and his or her airways become wider. For any person with asthma, effective ongoing asthma control can help them move into a less severe category.

The asthma experts at UI Health can help you bring your asthma under control. To request an appointment, please fill out the online form or call 312.996.3300.

Excretory And Digestive Systems

Anxiety also affects your excretory and digestive systems. You may have stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Loss of appetite can also occur.

There may be a connection between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome after a bowel infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

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Does Asthma Affect Brain

Asthma can affect a person in many ways. It primarily affects the airways in the lungs, but can also have a great impact on brain function. Asthma restricts the amount of oxygen that a human body receives. Lack of oxygen can have a dramatic effect on the overall functionality of various organs. Common asthma symptoms include wheeze, cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

Asthma- A Chronic Condition

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs with a significant health burden. It disturbs the normal breathing pattern by narrowing the airways. When the airways become narrowed, the amount of oxygen entering the body and the amount of carbon dioxide leaving the body are both restricted.

The following conditions cause the airways to narrow:

Tightening of the muscles: In asthma patients, the airways sometimes overreact to trigger symptoms, which may lead to muscle spasms surrounding the airways, called bronchospasm. This contraction results in the narrowing of the space inside the airways and causes less air to pass through the lungs.

Twitchiness: The airways of an asthma patient narrows in response to asthma triggers such as cold air or exercise. This can also be called as bronchial hyperactivity.

Excess of Mucus: Mucus cleans away foreign particles from the air passages. Inflamed airways may cause too much mucus to produce, which occupies the space in the airways and make it difficult for air to pass through.

Who Can Get Asthma


Anyone can develop asthma at any age. People with allergies or people exposed to tobacco smoke and secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma.

Statistics show women tend to have asthma more than men, and asthma affects Black Americans more frequently than other races.

When a child develops asthma, healthcare providers call it childhood asthma. If it develops later in life, its adult-onset asthma.

Children do not outgrow asthma. They may have fewer symptoms as they get older, but they could still have an asthma attack. Your childs healthcare provider can help you understand the risks.

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Emotional Effects Of Asthma

An asthma attack can be really scary. Trouble breathing, leading to the sensation of “air hunger,” often causes people to feel like they are going to die. Understandably, this can be pretty upsetting. Even when you aren’t currently having asthma symptoms, the fear of another attack could cause you to feel constantly anxious and afraid. Other people react in different ways. Instead of fear, they might feel embarrassed, angry, confused, or guilty.

All of these feelings are normal.

The emotional impact asthma has on you any may depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The severity of your asthma
  • How much asthma limits your activities
  • The level of your social and family support
  • How old you were when asthma symptoms started
  • Your level of asthma-related skills and knowledge
  • Overall personality and coping style

How Is Asthma Diagnosed

To diagnose asthma, a doctor will do a physical exam and ask about the person’s medical history, including whether anyone else in the family has asthma.

The doctor might do tests like spirometry or peak flow meter tests. These involve blowing into devices that can measure how well the lungs are working. Allergy tests or exercise tests can tell doctors if asthma is brought on by allergens or physical activity. Doctors may use X-rays to rule out other problems.

Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Asthma Without An Inhaler

What You Can Do

There is no one way to deal with your asthma, but there are some things you can do to improve how you live with asthma:

  • Acknowledge and accept the feelings your asthma brings up. Facing your feelings head on can help you identify problems and ways to cope. Talk to your kids about how theyre feeling about their asthma, both in their daily lives and during an attack.
  • Take an active role in taking care of yourself. Learn about your asthma and ask questions. Help your kids understand what asthma does. Just knowing whats happening can help you feel more in control.
  • Teach others. Helping others understand asthma and how it works can help them better support you, help you feel included, and help you become an expert on your asthma.
  • Ask for help.In 2011, 1 in 12 people suffered from asthma. Youre not alone. Your family and friends can be a wonderful team to support you and help you tackle stressful situations.
  • Find a care provider you trust and feel comfortable with. Trusting your doctor and his treatment is an important part of overcoming stress caused by your asthma.
  • Try relaxation exercises. Yoga, Pilates, meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and clearing negative thoughts can all help you reduce stress.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle. Eating right, exercising, and getting a good nights sleep can help you recharge physically and emotionally, which can reduce stress and asthma attacks.

What Does Asthma Feel Like


Asthma is marked by inflammation of the bronchial tubes, with extra sticky secretions inside the tubes. People with asthma have symptoms when the airways tighten, inflame, or fill with mucus.

There are three major signs of asthma:

  • Airway blockage. When you breathe as usual, the bands of muscle around your airways are relaxed, and air moves freely. But when you have asthma, the muscles tighten. It√Ęs harder for air to pass through.
  • Inflammation. Asthma causes red, swollen bronchial tubes in your lungs. This inflammation can damage your lungs. Treating this is key to managing asthma in the long run.
  • Airway irritability. People with asthma have sensitive airways that tend to overreact and narrow when they come into contact with even slight triggers.

These problems may cause symptoms such as:

Not every person with asthma has the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, being mild during one and severe during another.

Some people with asthma may go for long periods without having any symptoms. Others might have problems every day. In addition, some people may have asthma only during exercise or with viral infections like colds.

When to see your doctor

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