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How Does Asthma Affect The Lungs

Who Is At Risk For Asthma

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

Asthma affects people of all ages, but it often starts during childhood. Certain factors can raise your risk of having asthma:

  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke when your mother is pregnant with you or when you are a small child
  • Being exposed to certain substances at work, such as chemical irritants or industrial dusts
  • Genetics and family history. You are more likely to have asthma if one of your parents has it, especially if it’s your mother.
  • Race or ethnicity. Black and African Americans and Puerto Ricans are at higher risk of asthma than people of other races or ethnicities.
  • Having other medical conditions such as allergies and obesity
  • Often having viral respiratory infections as a young child
  • Sex. In children, asthma is more common in boys. In teens and adults, it is more common in women.

Identifying Asthma Triggers With Allergy Testing

Determining what triggers a persons asthma is often difficult.

Allergy testing is appropriate when there is a suspicion that some avoidable substance is provoking attacks. Skin testing can help identify allergens that may trigger asthma symptoms. However, an allergic response to a skin test does not necessarily mean that the allergen being tested is causing the asthma. The person still has to note whether attacks occur after exposure to this allergen. If doctors suspect a particular allergen, a blood test that measures the level of antibody produced in response to the allergen can be done to determine the degree of the person’s sensitivity to the allergen.

What Can Be Done About It

Asthma can be controlled. Moreover, it can be controlled by those who have asthma. The role of the physician is to provide the means for the patient to control asthma and to teach the patient to use provided measures .

Since asthma varies greatly in pattern of symptoms and severity, the treatment plan needs to be individualized. This should be done in a systematic manner. Goals of therapy must be realistically attainable and explicitly defined for you. The plan for attaining the treatment goals must be understood. Once the measures needed for control of asthma are identified, they can be placed in the hands of the patient with appropriate instructions for usage. Parental supervision is needed for young children, but progressive responsibility for self-management is given with advancing maturity.

Treatment may consist of medication, environmental changes, and life-style changes. The more the patient understands the disease and its treatment, the better the outcome is likely to be. The patient should therefore be an active partner in making decisions about treatment. Be wary, however, of superstitions and misinformation regarding asthma. More than almost any other medical problem, asthma is associated with a wide diversity of medical and nonmedical opinion. Both the physician and the patient therefore need to exercise judgment. Four common sense measures to remember are:

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How Serious Is Asthma

Tragically, three people die every day because of asthma attacks and research shows that two thirds of asthma deaths are preventable.;

The reassuring fact is that most people with asthma who get the right treatment -;and take it correctly -;can manage their symptoms and get on with what they want to do in life.

Will I Always Have Asthma

Stress and Asthma

Asthma is a lifelong condition; most people who have asthma will always have asthma.

But if youve been diagnosed with asthma as a child, your asthma might improve or disappear completely as you get older, particularly if the asthma was mild. ;

Even if asthma goes away it can come back later in life, perhaps because youve come into contact with new triggers in your job, or youve moved to an area with more air pollution for example. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause can also bring it on again.

But the good news is that even though asthma doesnt go away there are lots of safe and effective;treatments;available to help you stay symptom-free.

If youve tried taking all the usual treatments in the right way, but youre still having symptoms, your GP can refer you to a specialist to see if you have severe asthma. This kind of asthma only affects around 4% of all people with asthma. An asthma specialist can help you find the right treatments for you, for example monoclonal antibodies.

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The Connection Between Lungs And Heart

The lungs and the heart work very closely and are heavily dependent on each other. One of the primary functions of the heart is to supply oxygen to other parts of the body. And oxygen enters the body through lungs. So if theres any issue with the health of your lungs, the heart has to work harder to circulate oxygen throughout the body. All of this means that healthy lungs play a critical role in heart health.

Signs You Actually Have Severe Asthma

Breathing is just one of those things you take for granted until it feels like every inhale or exhale is a struggle. Unfortunately, people with severe asthma have to deal with breathing issues way more often than anyone should, and it can be completely terrifying.

Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects the airways that extend from your nose and mouth to your lungs, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . When youre exposed to triggers like animal fur, pollen, mold, exercise, and respiratory infections, these airways can narrow, restricting your airflow. This can then make the muscles surrounding your airways constrict, making it even harder to breathe, and cause your airways to produce more mucus than normal, further compounding the problem. All together, this can lead to asthma symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing , and chest tightness or pain, according to the NHLBI.

Like most health conditions, asthma severity runs along a spectrum, Emily Pennington, M.D., a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. Some people have cases where they experience minor symptoms here and there . Others can have asthma that is basically an ever-present problem and might result in scary asthma attacks, which is when symptoms ramp up in severity and can even become life-threatening.

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Effect Of Obesity On Lung Volumes And Expiratory Flows

Although obesity significantly reduces functional residual capacity and expiratory reserve volume , it has very little effect on residual volume and total lung capacity . Several studies have demonstrated small reductions in TLC with increasing BMI, but TLC is usually well-preserved even in patients with severe obesity . RV is typically within the normal range in people with obesity , and the RV-to-TLC ratio, an indicator of gas trapping, is also normal or slightly increased .

Measurements of static pulmonary volumes combined with measurements of transpulmonary and transdiaphragmatic pressures have provided deeper insights into the effects of obesity on lung mechanics and subsequent lung volumes. A landmark study on the effect of obesity on lung volumes measured in the seated position demonstrated that esophageal and gastric pressure at FRC were significantly elevated in obese subjects as compared to their healthy counterparts who were matched for age, gender and height . Similar results were recorded in the supine position, and BMI correlated with gastric and esophageal pressures.

Alcohol Effects On Lungs

How Asthma Affects Your Lungs and Your Life

Heavy alcohol use can cause damage to the lungs in a few different ways. It can interfere with the immune system that keeps the lungs healthy and able to fight off infections. It can also harm the surface cells that line the insides of the lungs.

Every day, a person inhales things in the air from which the lungs and immune system try to protect them. Parts of the lungs are even lined with moving, hair-like cells called cilia whose job it is to sweep things inhaled out of the lungs. Heavy alcohol> use harms this whole process.

Alcohols damage to lung cells and the immune system is so well known that it is a syndrome termed alcoholic lung. One study showed that chronic alcohol use can start to harm the lungs in as little as six weeks.

Alcohol abuse can also cause inflammation and harm cells in both the upper and lower parts of the airway. Its not the alcohol in its liquid form that does this, it is actually the vapor. Alcohol, after all, is an irritating chemical.

After a person drinks alcohol, besides going into the bloodstream, some of it will diffuse out into the lungs and end up in the breath. Breathalyzer tests work because the alcohol is partly breathed out in vapor form. But when it is in vapor form, then it is free to cause damage to the airway. This damage happens not only in the lungs but also in the nasal passages and sinuses, causing inflammation and making them less able to fight off infection.

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Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases

The Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases contributes to WHOs work to prevent and control chronic respiratory diseases. GARD is a voluntary alliance of national and international organizations and agencies from many countries committed to the vision of a world where all people breathe freely.

Asthma Symptoms Childhood Vs Adult

Childhood asthma symptoms are generally similar to adult asthma symptoms. However, determining asthma symptoms in children can be a bit more difficult. Adult asthma symptoms are easier to determine since an adult can tell you how they are feeling plus they know their body better. Although you can see and hear the coughing and shortness of breath in younger children, they may not be able to let you know how they are feeling. Plus young children are not able to do a breathing test called spirometry.

  • Not being able to keep up with other children while running around
  • Having a hard time catching their breath or breathing faster than other children who are doing the same thing
  • Looks like they have a cold, which could actually be asthma
  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Coughing so hard that they vomit
  • You may hear wheezing
  • If you notice any of these typical childhood asthma symptoms, see your doctor to find out if it is due to asthma.

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What Are Some Alternatives

The rise of niche cocktails has lead to the creation of the mocktail. A mocktail can be just as refreshing and festive as a cocktail, and it comes without potential side effects.

Sulfites are preservatives that can often be found in mixers. When ordering a mocktail, be sure to look for one that has fresh ingredients.

You can also search the kids menu, or modify the drinks you used to order on special childhood occasions. How about a grown-up version of a Shirley Temple? Pair fresh cherry and lime juice paired with sparkling soda to create one.

Do you want to make a mocktail at home? Thats easy, too. Combine sparkling water with some fresh-squeezed juice, or muddled fruits and herbs.

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What Should I Do If I Have A Severe Asthma Attack

Hypnotherapy for Asthma

A severe asthma attack needs immediate medical care. The first step is your rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler uses fast-acting medicines to open up your airways. Its different than your normal maintenance inhaler, which you use every day. You should only use the rescue inhaler in an emergency.

If your rescue inhaler doesnt help or you dont have it with you, go to the emergency department if you have:

  • Anxiety or panic.
  • Bluish fingernails, bluish lips or gray or whitish lips or gums .
  • Chest pain or pressure.

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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.

Physical Symptoms Of Asthma

Asthma symptoms and severity vary substantially from person to person. Most people with asthma do not have symptoms constantly. Bothersome asthma symptoms can mean that asthma is not controlled sufficiently or that an acute asthma episode may be starting. Common asthma symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Awakening in the night from coughing or wheezing

If you do not have asthma, you can help yourself imagine what it feels like to have an asthma episode:

  • Run in place for a minute or two, until you can feel your heart start to beat fast. Take a plastic drinking straw and put it in your mouth. Hold your nose closed and continue to breathe through the straw. OR
  • Take a deep breath in and hold it a moment. Now let out about a tenth of the air in your lungs. Breathe back in. Breathe out that same small amount of air. Breathe back in. Repeat until you can’t stand it anymore.
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    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.

    Adipokines And Systemic Inflammation In Obesity

    How does cold weather affect asthma?

    Adipose tissue is an important endocrine organ that secretes adipocyte-derived factors known as adipokines, which might affect airway function. Adipokines are energy-regulating proteins synthesized and secreted by adipose tissue. Adipokines are differentially expressed in the adipose tissue of obese subjects compared with lean subjects, and in obese patients with asthma compared to those without asthma. Expression of adiponectinthe most abundant anti-inflammatory adipokine in the adipose tissueis markedly reduced; expression of leptina pro-inflammatory adipokine is increased, in obese patients with asthma .

    Other inflammatory mediators that are increased in obesity include tumor necrosis factor alpha , interleukin 8 and IL-6 , high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 . In addition, the level of circulating leukocytes in the blood of obese subjects is increased compared to lean individuals . The role of these other cytokines in obese asthma is not well-understood.

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    Reducing The Burden Of Asthma

    Asthma cannot be cured, but good management with inhaled medications can control the disease and enable people with asthma to enjoy a normal, active life.

    There are two main types of inhaler:

    • bronchodilators , that open the air passages and relieve symptoms; and
    • steroids , that reduce inflammation in the air passages. This improves asthma symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks and death.

    People with asthma may need to use their inhaler every day. Their treatment will depend on the frequency of symptoms and the different types of inhalers available.

    It can be difficult to coordinate breathing using an inhaler especially for children and during emergency situations. Using a spacer device makes it easier to use an aerosol inhaler and helps the medicine to reach the lungs more effectively. A spacer is a plastic container with a mouthpiece or mask at one end, and a hole for the inhaler in the other. A homemade spacer, made from a 500-ml plastic bottle, can be as effective as a commercially-manufactured inhaler.;

    Access to inhalers is a problem in many countries. In 2019, only half of people with asthma had access to a bronchodilator and less than one in five had access to a steroid inhaler in public primary health-care facilities in low-income countries .

    What Is An Asthma Action Plan

    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.

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    Is All Asthma The Same

    Asthma is quite variable. Symptoms can range from trivial and infrequent in some to severe, unrelenting, and dangerous in others. Even when severe, however, the airway obstruction is usually fully reversible, either spontaneously or as a result of treatment. This means that symptoms can be relieved, airway obstruction can be reversed, and pulmonary function can be made normal.

    There are different patterns of asthma. Some people have only an intermittent pattern of disease. They have self-limited episodes of varying severity followed by extended symptom-free periods. The individual episodes are frequently triggered by viral respiratory infections . This is particularly common in young children in whom viral respiratory infections are frequent . Others have these intermittent symptomatic periods brought on by vigorous exertion, cold air, or specific environmental exposures. This pattern is intermittent asthma.

    More prolonged periods of symptoms occur in people who have asthma from seasonal outdoor inhalant allergens. This may be from grass pollen on the West Coast or mold spores from molds that grow on decaying vegetation in the Midwest. Through a knowledge of the aerobiology in your area and allergy skin testing, your physician can attempt to identify whether the symptoms fit into this pattern of disease. This pattern is seasonal allergic asthma.

    How Is Asthma Linked To Heart Disease

    Asthma
    • The symptoms of both asthma and heart failure include shortness of breath, severe chest pains and coughing. It is difficult to distinguish between the two at first glance.
    • Both asthma and heart disease are caused by inflammation in the body.
    • In the event of an asthma attack, the patient is also bound to show symptoms of severe chest pains because the flow of blood is compromised when the body is inflamed.
    • Patients with active asthma are more likely to get a heart failure than those who have not had an asthma attack recently.
    • Most cases of asthma linked to heart diseases were found in patients who had developed asthma as adults.
    • Researchers found that patients with asthma had about a 70 percent higher risk of heart diseases than those without asthma.

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