What Is Asthma And What Causes It
Asthma can start during early childhood or develop later in life the cause is most often unknown or identified as an allergic response of the upper airways to any environmental triggers. An asthma attack cannot only be induced by allergens, but also by sudden changes of air humidity or temperature, as well as inhalation of fumes generated by evaporation of chemicals, or from cooking or heating. Besides inhaled triggers, asthma attacks can be resulted from psychological stress, sports or food allergens. The question which mechanism links all these diverse triggers to develop asthma remains open.
Spacers And Asthma Medication
For all people with asthma, it is recommended that a spacer device is used when asthma medication is delivered via a puffer . A spacer is a specially designed container that attaches to a puffer and has its own mouthpiece to breathe through.
Using a spacer helps the medication to go where it is supposed to into the small airways in the lungs rather than ending up coating your childs mouth, tongue and throat. It is much more effective than using a puffer on its own. Using a spacer with a puffer can reduce or prevent side effects from inhaled medication.
Babies and young children may need a spacer with a special face mask attached to inhale asthma medicines effectively. These fit tightly around your childs mouth and nose to make sure none of the medicine leaks out. Talk to your pharmacist for advice and to have your technique checked.
Watch this Asthma Australia video which shows you how to use a spacer with a face mask.
Are There Any Special Considerations For Adults Who Develop Asthma
People with multiple medical conditions need to be aware of how their illnesses and the medications they use may affect one another.
If you take more than one medication, talk with your physician about ways to simplify your medication program. Explore the possibility of combining medications or using alternate ones that will have the same desired effect. Be sure to discuss potential drug interactions with anything you take including vitamins or herbal supplements.
Read Also: What To Do When Having An Asthma Attack
What Causes Skin Aging
Genes play a huge role in the aging process. The degree of skin aging, especially that which is caused by sun exposure, is significantly affected by a persons Fitzpatrick phototype and ethnicity. The Fitzpatrick skin type scale classifies skin based on its reaction to sun exposure.
Fair-skinned people of Northern European descent are more susceptible to photoaging than people of color . This happens because the melanin in the skin protects against sun-induced aging.
Signs And Symptoms Of Childhood Asthma
Not all children have the same asthma symptoms. A child may even have different symptoms from one episode to the next. Signs and symptoms of asthma in children include:
- A cough that doesnât go away
- Coughing spells that happen often, especially during play or exercise, at night, in cold air, or while laughing or crying
- A cough that gets worse after a viral infection
- Less energy during play, and stopping to catch their breath during activities
- Avoiding sports or social activities
- Tight neck and chest muscles
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble eating, or grunting while eating
Your child’s doctor should check out any illness that makes it hard for them to breathe.
Experts sometimes use the terms âreactive airways diseaseâ and âbronchiolitisâ when talking about wheezing with shortness of breath or coughing in infants and toddlers. Tests may not be able to confirm asthma in children younger than 5.
When to get emergency care
A severe asthma attack needs medical care right away. Watch for these signs:
- Stopping in the middle of a sentence to catch a breath
- Using stomach muscles to breathe
- A belly that sinks in under their ribs when they try to get air
- Chest and sides that pull in as they breathe
- Severe wheezing
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What Can I Do To Reduce Asthma Symptoms
- Learn your childs triggers.
- Allergens like dust mites, pets, pests, molds and pollen can play a role in some childrens asthma. Discuss with your health care provider whether an evaluation by an allergist may be helpful.
- Follow your asthma management plan and give the medicines prescribed by your childs doctor.
- Avoid smoking near your child.
Symptoms Of Asthma Emergencies In Children
The signs of an asthma emergency include when the child:
- finds it very difficult to breathe or is not breathing
- is unable to speak comfortably or complete sentences without losing breath
- has lips turn blue
- has symptoms that get worse very quickly
- has tugging in of the skin between ribs or at the base of the neck
- is getting little or no relief from their reliever inhaler, or their reliever inhaler is not available.
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How Is Asthma Different When Youre Older
You may notice new challenges with your asthma as you get older. For example:
- Symptoms may feel harder to control
- It can take longer to recover from an asthma attack or get over colds and flu
- Side effects from asthma medicines can be more noticeable
- Other conditions alongside asthma are more common.
Some of these challenges are to do with natural ageing. As we get older, our lungs are less strong, and our immune system can take longer to fight off infection.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to manage these changes, with your GPs support, says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UKs in-house GP. And positive things you can do to keep your body and mind healthy in later life.
Diagnosed with asthma later in life?
Asthma diagnosed later in life is known as late-onset asthma. This kind of asthma is more common in women, often starting around the menopause.
Symptoms sometimes start after a viral infection. Some people may have needed steroid tablets or an inhaler for chest symptoms a while before they were given a diagnosis, says Dr Andy.
Its not uncommon for late-onset asthma to go undiagnosed or to be misdiagnosed as another condition, like a chest infection or heart disease, says Dr Andy.
Childhood asthma come back?
What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Adult Onset Asthma
Regardless of age, asthma symptoms can include:
Dry cough, especially at night or in response to specific triggers
Tightness or pressure in the chest
Wheezing a whistling sound when exhaling
Shortness of breath after exercise or physical exertion
Colds that go to the chest or hang on for 10 days or more
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What Causes Asthma In Infants And Toddlers
We still do not know what causes some people to get asthma. If a child has a family history of asthma or allergies, a specific allergy or had a mother who smoked during pregnancy, they have a higher chance of getting asthma early in life.
A respiratory virus, an illness that occurs in the lungs, is one of the most common causes of asthma symptoms in children 5 years old and younger. Although both adults and children experience respiratory infections, children have more of them. Some preschool children get viral infections often. At least half of children with asthma show some sign of it before the age of 5. Viruses are the most common cause of acute asthma episodes in infants 6 months old or younger.
Side Effects Of Asthma Medication
If you are worried about possible side effects from asthma medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop or reduce doses of medication for your child without speaking with your doctor. Common side effects from inhaled asthma medication:
- sore mouth and throat
- fungal throat infections.
Using a spacer reduces the risk of these side effects. as does rinsing the mouth with water after using an inhaler.
- fast heart beat.
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How Is Adult Onset Asthma Diagnosed
Asthma symptoms can mimic other illnesses or diseasesespecially in older adults. Hiatal hernia, stomach problems or rheumatoid arthritis can create asthma-like symptoms. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has many of the same symptoms as asthma. COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is very common in older adults, especially those who are or have been smokers. To diagnose asthma, your physician will question you about your symptoms, do a physical exam, and conduct lung function tests. In addition, you may be tested for allergies. Your primary care physician may refer you to a pulmonologist or an allergist for specialized testing or treatment. If you have any asthma symptoms, dont ignore them or try to treat them yourself! Get a definitive diagnosis from your health care provider.
What Does Asthma Remission Look Likeand Can You Flare After Being In Remission
According to the NIH study, the small number of people who see their asthma completely clear up never experience asthma symptoms again, nor do they need required inhaled treatments. Other adults simply see their asthma symptoms become more and more infrequent, Dr. Li says. “The diagnosis may ‘stay’ with the patient as they are at risk of a recurrence of the symptoms, but they may not need daily controller therapy if their symptoms are intermittent or are mild,” she explains.
And sometimes, even in those who have technically experienced asthma remission, symptoms may reappear, according to a 2003 paper published in Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine. The paper also shares that some adults can start to experience asthmatic symptoms even if they haven’t suffered from any since childhood.
Overall though, little is known about who is likely to see remission and who will likely need to stay on an asthma treatment for the rest of their life, so it’s a good idea to keep in contact with an asthma specialist and talk at length with them before quitting any treatments. according to Dr. Li. “My best advice is to see a specialist and understand what type of asthma ,” she says. “From there, with appropriate therapy and follow-up, that person’s asthma action plan tailored.”
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How Will You Know When Your Child’s Asthma Is Well
You will know that your child’s asthma is well-controlled if, while on medications, your child:
- Lives an active, normal life.
- Has few troublesome symptoms.
- Performs daily activities without difficulty.
- Has had no urgent visits to the doctor, emergency department or hospital.
- Has few or no side effects from the medications.
What Makes A Child More Likely To Develop Asthma
There are many risk factors for developing childhood asthma. These include:
- Family history of asthma, allergies and atopy .
- Frequent respiratory infections.
- Being African American.
- Being raised in a low-income environment.
In children who are under five years of age, the most common cause of asthma symptoms is upper respiratory viral infections such as the common cold.
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Severe Difficult To Control Asthma Steroid
Children that do not seem to respond to standard treatment are referred to as severe or difficult to control asthma, and these children experience substantial morbidity from asthma symptoms. To classify a child into this phenotype, the first step is to exclude an incorrect diagnosis, poor adherence to treatment, or incorrect technique with an inhaler and spacer . Supervised asthma therapy programs can be extremely useful in managing asthma symptoms and reducing healthcare utilization for children with poor medication adherence and inhaler and spacer technique . It is important to differentiate between severe therapy-resistant asthma and difficult-to-treat asthma due to comorbidities Difficult to treat asthma is a much more common reason for persistent symptoms and exacerbations and can be managed if comorbidities, such as allergic rhinitis and chronic exposure to asthma triggers, are directly targeted. Home visiting programs and assessment of the school environment are important features of the evaluation for children with concern for chronic exposure to asthma triggers . Children with persistent symptoms and exacerbations despite correct inhaler technique and good medical adherence to standard asthma therapy should be referred to an asthma specialist to consider more potent biologic therapies such as anti-IgE, anti-IL-5, or anti-IL-13 therapies and further evaluation .
Diagnosis Of Asthma In Children
- the wheezing happens more than once with or without an illness
- constant coughing or bouts of coughing become worse at night
- you are concerned about any breathing problems in your child.
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What Causes Asthma In Children
The exact cause of asthma is unknown. Genetics and environment likely play a role in which children get asthma.
An asthma attack can happen when your child is exposed to an asthma trigger. An asthma trigger is something that can set off or worsen asthma symptoms. Different triggers can cause different types of asthma:
- Allergic asthma is caused by allergens. Allergens are substances that cause an allergic reaction. They can include
- Dust mites
Asthma triggers may be different for each child and can change over time.
What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma In Children
The symptoms of asthma in children include
- Chest tightness
- Wheezing, which causes a whistling sound when they breathe out
- Trouble eating or sucking
These symptoms can range from mild to severe. They may happen often or only once in a while.
When children have an asthma attack, their symptoms get much worse. The attacks may come on gradually or suddenly. Sometimes they can be life-threatening. Warning signs of a severe attack include severe coughing, serious breathing problems, and turning very pale or blue in the face, lips and/or fingernails. If your child has those symptoms, get medical help right away.
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Managing Your Asthma Well In Later Life
Continue to have regular asthma reviews
Whether youve had asthma all your life or youve been diagnosed with it as an older adult, an asthma review helps you stay on top of any changes in your symptoms.
You can make sure your asthma action plan is up to date, review your asthma medicines, and check youre taking the lowest dose possible to stay well and avoid side effects.
Track your symptoms
Keeping track of your symptoms makes it easier to spot any changes. Write down your symptoms in a diary, notebook, or on your phone and take it along to your next appointment.
Remember to make a note of anything you were doing that day or any triggers you came across you may notice youre sensitive to new things that were not a problem before.
Dont ignore symptoms like breathlessness, says Dr Andy. Its easy to think that feeling a bit more breathless is just another sign that youre not as fit as you used to be.
But if youre feeling out of breath climbing stairs or walking uphill, see your GP to get it checked out. Breathlessness can be a sign that your asthma is not well controlled. It could also be a sign of another health condition.
Act quickly if symptoms get worse
To cut your risk of an asthma attack, take action as soon as you notice symptoms getting worse. As we get older, asthma attacks can be more severe and take longer to recover from.
Check your inhaler technique
Remission And Mortality In Childhood Asthma
Asthma remission occurs most commonly between the ages of 1421 years . However, large longitudinal studies have also shown that, among children who wheezed before age 3 years, more than 50% had stopped wheezing either by 6 years of age or by 12 years of age, depending on the study. Remission rates of childhood asthma have been reported between 16 and 60% by early adulthood, according to prior longitudinal studies . The wide variation in reported remission rates is likely due to diverse study designs, varying follow-up periods, and different study populations. In longitudinal studies, children with the following characteristics had higher remission rates: episodic asthma , milder initial asthma severity, less allergic sensitization, less allergic rhinitis, less atopic dermatitis, and male sex .
While the morbidity of childhood asthma is significant, fortunately, mortality from childhood asthma is rare with an estimated 28 deaths per million children with asthma . As with childhood asthma morbidity, there are grave racial disparities in childhood asthma mortality, and black, and Hispanic children suffer disproportionately from the highest mortality rates .
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma In Children
Signs and symptoms of asthma in children include:
- Frequent coughing spells, which may occur while the child is playing, laughing, or at night or right after waking. Coughing may be the only symptom.
- Less energy during play.
- Complaint of chest tightness or the chest “hurting.”
- Whistling sound when the child is breathing in or out.
- Retractions in the chest from difficulty breathing.
- Shortness of breath or loss of breath.
- Tightened neck and chest muscles.
- Feelings of weakness or tiredness.
Not all children have the same asthma symptoms. Symptoms can vary from episode to episode in the same child. In addition, not all wheezing or coughing is caused by asthma.
If your child has problems breathing, take him or her to the pediatrician for an evaluation. Your child may be referred to a specialist, such as a pediatric pulmonary provider or a pediatric allergist.
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:
- smoke, pollution and cold air
- infections like colds or flu
Identifying and avoiding your asthma triggers can help you keep your symptoms under control.
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