What Does Asthma Feel Like
People describe the feeling of asthma in different ways. Depending on how well-controlled it isor isntasthma can feel like a dull ache in your chest or like youre drowning in air. Your breathing becomes labored. Your chest tightens. And then theres the straw metaphor, which Dr. Galiatsatos says his patients often use to describe how they are feeling.
What Are The Causes Of Asthma
Asthma symptoms are commonly triggered by allergies brought on by pollen, dust mites, feathers and animal fur. Smoke fumes and general air pollution can also act as a trigger, and having a cold or the flu can also set it off.
Certain medications are also known to trigger asthma. This is particularly true of anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Asthma can even be triggered by exercise and heightened emotional states such as excessive laughter or stress.
How Is Asthma Diagnosed
Asthma is diagnosed by a spectrum of variables, not just one thing, Dr. Ogden says. Your doctor will look at your clinical history and symptoms, pulmonary function testing, and response to medication.
One thing you will need for diagnosis is a big inhale and exhale, or several. Among the breathing tests that are used to measure how well your lungs work are:
- A spirometry test diagnoses asthma severity and measures how well treatment is working. You take a deep breath and blow into a sensor to measure the amount of air your lungs can hold and the speed of the air you inhale or exhale.
- A fractional exhaled nitric oxide test measures how much inflammation you have in your lungs.
- Peak expiratory flow tests measure how fast you can blow out air using maximum effort. This test can be done during spirometry or by breathing into a separate device, like a tube.
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How Can You Tell If Emotions Trigger Your Asthma
Keep a symptom diary to help you see what triggers your asthma, or your childs asthma. If the symptoms are worse when youre stressed, upset, angry or excited, make a note of it. You might start to see a pattern.
Use a written Asthma Action Plan to keep an eye on any change in your asthma symptoms and know what to do when you notice them.
Which Activities Are Ok For Kids With Eia
Exercise is a great idea for everyone, including kids with exercise-induced asthma. Besides keeping kids fit, exercise can improve lung function by strengthening the breathing muscles in the chest.
Encourage your child to be active while also keeping asthma symptoms under control by following the asthma action plan. Ask your doctor which exercises, sports, and activities are safe for your child.
These activities usually are OK for people with EIA:
- easy walking, jogging, or hiking
- shorter track and field events
Endurance sports and those requiring extended energy output can be more challenging. So can cold-weather sports, like cross-country skiing and ice hockey.
But that doesn’t mean kids can’t play these sports if they enjoy them. In fact, many athletes with asthma have found that with proper training and medicine, they can do any sport they choose.
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Laughter Or Crying And Asthma
Extreme emotional states like heavy laughter or intense crying can prompt an asthma attack by changing breathing patterns and restricting airflow. Its a form of hyperventilation, which, like exercise, tends to trigger an asthmatic response in people with underlying airway inflammation, Zitt says.
Food Additives And Asthma
Food preservatives, food colorings, and flavoring agents have been found to cause asthma attacks in some people, so make sure to read food labels. Sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, and sodium sulfite are all potential triggers. Sulfites are the most common, Zitt explains. Some people have trouble with delicatessen meats that are high in nitrites, while others may experience asthma symptoms from monosodium glutamate or from yellow food coloring containing tartrazine. Still, he adds, the scientific evidence regarding some of these potential triggers remains in dispute.
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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.
What Types Of Asthma Are There
Asthma is broken down into types based on the cause and the severity of symptoms. Healthcare providers identify asthma as:
- Intermittent: This type of asthma comes and goes so you can feel normal in between asthma flares.
- Persistent: Persistent asthma means you have symptoms much of the time. Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe. Healthcare providers base asthma severity on how often you have symptoms. They also consider how well you can do things during an attack.
Asthma has multiple causes:
- Allergic: Some peoples allergies can cause an asthma attack. Allergens include things like molds, pollens and pet dander.
- Non-allergic: Outside factors can cause asthma to flare up. Exercise, stress, illness and weather may cause a flare.
Asthma can also be:
- Adult-onset: This type of asthma starts after the age of 18.
- Pediatric: Also called childhood asthma, this type of asthma often begins before the age of 5, and can occur in infants and toddlers. Children may outgrow asthma. You should make sure that you discuss it with your provider before you decide whether your child needs to have an inhaler available in case they have an asthma attack. Your childs healthcare provider can help you understand the risks.
In addition, there are these types of asthma:
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Tips For Kids With Exercise
For the most part, kids with exercise-induced asthma can do anything their peers can do. But be sure to follow the suggestions given by your child’s doctor.
Here are some tips for kids and teens:
- If symptoms start, don’t exercise until they stop.
- Warm up before exercise to prevent chest tightening.
- Take quick-relief medicine as close to the start of exercise as possible.
- Breathe through the nose during exercise.
- Take brief rests during exercise and use quick-relief medicine, as prescribed, if symptoms start.
- Cool down after exercise to help slow the change of air temperature in the lungs.
It’s also best not to exercise outside during very cold weather. If your child plays outside when it’s cold, wearing a ski mask or a scarf over the mouth and nose should help.
If air pollution or pollen are triggers, your child may want to exercise indoors when air quality is poor or pollen counts are high. And kids shouldn’t exercise when they have a cold or other upper respiratory infection.
Kids should always have access to their quick-relief medicine. Keep extras on hand and be sure to check all supplies so your child isn’t carrying an empty inhaler.
Why Do Emotions Trigger Asthma
We all feel emotions such as joy, anger, and excitement, and studies have shown a link between strong emotions and asthma symptoms getting worse.
For example, 43% of people with asthma tell us that stress can be a trigger. Find out more about managing stress when you have asthma.
We also know that depression, panic attacks and grief are linked to asthma symptoms.
Positive emotions can trigger asthma symptoms, too. GINA lists laughter as a main asthma trigger, and a study by the American Thoracic Society revealed that half of the study group found laughter triggered their symptoms.
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Know When To Get Help
Warning signs of a potential asthma attack include:
- Needing more rescue inhaler medication .
- A cough that gets worse.
- Feeling like you canât breathe or like someoneâs sitting on your chest.
- Waking up at night feeling like you canât breathe.
- Not being able to be active or exercise without getting winded or wheezing.
Use your asthma rescue inhaler medication as soon as you start to feel an attack come on. If it doesnât seem to work and you feel like you still canât breathe, call 911 so you can get to an emergency room right away.
If you have a steroid medicine at home , you can take it on your way to the ER.
Asthma Is Not For Laughs
Medical Matters: For those of us who do not suffer from asthma, there is understandably a perception that winter is the worst season for the disease. The many viruses and bacteria that circulate during the winter months certainly trigger acute symptoms in the vulnerable patient with asthma.
But the summer months can be troublesome also. Many patients with asthma are also prone to hayfever, reflecting the common allergic pathway shared by both disease processes. A high pollen count may cause wheezing as well as the streaming eyes and nose of hayfever.
Our recent weather conditions can also be bothersome. The heavy, humid and overcast day is one that certain people with asthma do not look forward to. The airless conditions combined with an inverted type of atmospheric weather pattern can push an otherwise stable patient into acute wheezing and breathlessness.
There was some interesting research into asthma presented at a recent conference of the American Thoracic Society . A study of 235 patients at the New York Medical Centre found that more than half developed asthma symptoms in response to laughter.
Prof Stuart Garay said he was surprised to discover how common a trigger factor laughter was. Its as common as some of the most well-known asthma triggers, such as grasses, pollen and fumes, and its even more common than dust mites, allergy to animals and moulds. Its a little-appreciated trigger factor.
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When To See A Doctor
At the moment, theres no cure for asthma. However, there are many effective treatments that can decrease asthma symptoms. Lifestyle changes and medications can also help improve your quality of life.
If you havent been diagnosed with asthma but are experiencing symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath, you should let your doctor know. You can connect to a physician in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.
Once youre diagnosed with asthma, you should see your doctor at least once a year or more frequently if you have persistent symptoms after using treatments.
- feel weak
- cant perform daily activities
- have a wheeze or cough that wont go away
Its important to educate yourself about your condition and its symptoms. The more you know, the more proactive you can be in improving your lung function and how you feel.
Talk with your doctor about:
- your type of asthma
- what daily treatments are best for you
- your treatment plan for an asthma attack
Techniques To Reverse The Stress Response
The AAFA recommends the below techniques for stress-induced asthma:
Select a nearby object from nature, such as a tree or flower, and focus on it for 12 minutes. Try to look at it as if seeing it for the first time, noticing the shapes, colors, and texture. Relax into the observation for a while until feeling better.
Begin by slowly breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. If it helps, try inhaling for 7 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 7 seconds. Bring attention to breathing and try to let go of everything else.
Repeat this pattern three times or until feeling an improvement.
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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.
Surprising Signs Of Adult
This post is available in: Spanish
That persistent cough that keeps you up at night may stem from more than just a tickle in the back of your throat. It could be adult-onset asthma.
Many people experience a jolt of disbelief when they are diagnosed with asthma later in life, especially if they have never experienced symptoms before. Asthma? That condition that causes kids to wheeze?
It turns out adult-onset asthma is far more common than many people realize. Asthma is often considered a disease of children, so adults may be surprised when they are diagnosed with asthma, says pulmonologist Javier Pérez-Fernández, M.D., the critical care director at Baptist Hospital of Miami.
The number of people with asthma grows every year. Currently, more than 26 million Americans have asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those cases, more than 20 million are among adults, with the greatest number of cases among ages 35 and 65.
Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lung airways that can lead to coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath or wheezing. Among adults who develop asthma later in life, the symptoms may initially be more subtle than in children, which can cause patients to overlook or ignore the condition. But its important to treat symptoms as soon as possible so they dont become severe, said Dr. Pérez-Fernández, who also serves as director of pulmonology for West Kendall Baptist Hospital.
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Laughter Is The Best Medicine Unless You Have Asthma
Most people know that stress, anxiety and panic are triggers for asthma, in-fact more than 40% of people list stress as a trigger for their asthma.
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However, not many are aware that more than half of people with asthma report that their symptoms are brought on by laughter, according to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference.
Of the 235 patients surveyed 67% stated that they suffered from laughter induced asthma . According to study author, Stuart Garay M.D , “But patients did report that during times when their asthma is well controlled they can laugh for longer without getting asthma symptoms. That suggests that laughter-induced asthma may be a sign that a person’s asthma isn’t as well controlled as it could be. People with asthma should be allowed to laugh!.”
Although no one is sure how laughter can induce asthma symptoms, the research suggests it may involve hyper ventilation, it was noted that exercise induced asthma was more common in people with laughter induced asthma than not.
Patients with and without laughter-induced asthma had the same severity of disease, rate of ER visits, hospitalization, use of anti-inflammatory drugs, or degree of asthma control, as measured by the standard Asthma Treatment Assessment Questionnaire.
Allergies Can Cause Asthma
Allergies with asthma is a common problem. Eighty percent of people with asthma have allergies to things in the air, like tree, grass, and weed pollens mold animal dander dust mites and cockroach droppings. In one study, children with high levels of cockroach droppings in their homes were four times more likely to have childhood asthma than children with low levels. An allergy to dust mites is another common asthma trigger.
If you have asthma thatâs hard to control, see an allergist to find out if you have allergies. Treating your allergies with medication and avoiding your triggers can help lower the odds of a severe asthma attack.
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Managing And Treating Asthma Symptoms
Asthma symptoms can usually be managed with the help of medications, most of which are breathed in through the mouth with the help of an inhaler. Sometimes systemic corticosteroids, which decrease inflammation, are needed for severe asthma attacks, and other medications can be used depending on the type and severity of your asthma.
Here are a few terms to know:
- Maintenance inhalers administer controller meds that are taken daily to keep asthma symptoms in check.
- Rescue inhalers deliver quick-relief medications to quickly open the airways and relieve asthma symptoms during a flare-up.
- Combination inhalers are used by people with severe asthma for long-term control of symptoms, and include both types of medication.
No matter the severity or frequency of flare-ups, everybody with asthma should work with their doctor to create an asthma action plan. This is a written set of instructions on how to manage your asthma, and usually includes:
Useful Information About Asthma
- In Canada, asthma is the third-most common chronic disease. It is estimated that over 3.8 million people in Canada currently have asthma. Approximately 850,000 of those are children under the age of 14
- Canadians have a two in five chance or a 40% risk of being diagnosed with asthma before age 40
- Asthma is the most common childhood respiratory disorder. Those most affected in Canada are children and asthma continues to be a major cause of hospitalization for children in Canada
- Asthma accounts for ¼ of the reasons for absences from school
- Asthma affects people to varying degrees ranging from mild to severe
- People with severe asthma may experience difficulties with routine daily activities.
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