Can Asthma Be Prevented
Asthma cant be prevented entirely, but there are some practical ways to reduce the risk of an asthma attack and live well with asthma.
- Get vaccinated for influenza: flu and other respiratory viruses are common triggers for asthma.
- Manage any allergies: asthma and allergies are closely linked, so treating allergic rhinitis and avoiding or managing any allergy triggers will help with your asthma.
- Live smoke-free: quit smoking if you smoke, and avoid any second-hand smoke .
- Eat well: a balanced diet helps you to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese makes asthma harder to manage.
- Care for yourself: mental health and asthma are linked, so let a trusted friend or your doctor know if you have been feeling sad or anxious, or dont enjoy things as much as before.
- See your doctor regularly: asthma needs to be regularly assessed and managed, and your medication needs may change over time. Ensure your asthma action plan is up to date by checking in with your doctor regularly.
Asthma & Anxiety Differences
Asthma and anxiety both can cause a feeling of tightness in your chest and breathing difficulties.
But the main difference is that hyperventilation during a panic attack increases oxygen flow, while constriction during an asthma attack reduces your oxygen intake.
Besides, wheezing and coughing are mainly associated with asthma attacks. And people with anxiety attacks may have symptoms beyond breathlessness.
Recognizing the difference between these conditions will help you and your doctor create an effective treatment plan. For instance, medications, such as bronchodilators, used to manage asthma worsen your anxiety.
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What Is A Panic Attack
First, lets identify what a panic attack is. A panic attack is a sudden onslaught of fear and anxiety that causes physical symptoms. Sometimes, panic attacks occur during highly stressful situations, while at other times, they appear randomly with no tangible problem evident. Panic attacks are common among individuals with chronic anxiety and are incredibly scary for anyone who experiences them.
Common symptoms of panic attacks include difficulty breathing, hyperventilation, body tremors, increased heart rate, chills, sweating, dizziness, nausea, and numbness. They can last for minutes or for hours, but either way, they are far from pleasant.
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The Link Between Asthma And Perfume
Asthma UK estimates that 2.5 million people in the UK find that fragrances such as perfumes or aerosols trigger their asthma symptoms, likely caused by particles in the air that are breathed in and irritate the airways. This makes them more inflamed and narrow, which can lead to wheezing, coughing, a tight chest, and a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
“Some people with asthma also tell us that strong smells, such as scented candles, hand cream or paint, also trigger their asthma, but the mechanisms behind this are less clear,” says Sonia Munde, head of Asthma UK’s telephone helpline service, which offers support and health advice to people with the condition.
And Heres What You Can Expect With Treatment Which Is Generally Either Long
One of the most important ways to treat asthma is to avoid being exposed to your triggers, Dr. Wilgus says. Of course, that can feel impossible if your trigger is something thats seemingly everywhere, like dust or pollen. Though you can definitely take steps to reduce your exposure to those, avoiding them entirely is tough. Luckily, there are medications that can help when youve done everything you can trigger-wise.
Asthma medications generally fall into two categories: long-term preventive medications and fast-acting drugs that can help when youre having an asthma attack or on your way to one. Long-term preventive medications like allergy medications and inhaled anti-inflammatory corticosteroids are designed to help control your asthma so youre less likely to have an asthma attack in the first place, the Mayo Clinic says. Quick-relief medications , like short-acting beta agonists that you use via an inhaler, can help relax your airways when theyre acting up enough that your asthma is noticeably worse.
Whatever you do, dont resign yourself to living with asthma symptoms like trouble breathing and coughing all the time. Asthma is a very controllable illness as long as the signs and symptoms are not ignored, Dr. Parikh says.
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How Long Asthma Lasts For
Asthma is a long-term condition for many people, particularly if it first develops when you’re an adult.
In children, it sometimes goes away or improves during the teenage years, but can come back later in life.
The symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Most people will have normal, active lives, although some people with more severe asthma may have ongoing problems.
How Can You Tell If You Have Asthma
It can be hard to tell if someone has asthma, especially in children under age 5. Having a doctor check how well your lungs work and check for allergies can help you find out if you have asthma.
During a checkup, a doctor will ask if you cough a lot, especially at night. He or she will also ask whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or at certain times of year. The doctor will then ask about chest tightness, wheezing, and colds lasting more than 10 days. He or she will ask whether anyone in your family has or has had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems. Finally, the doctor will ask questions about your home and whether you have missed school or work or have trouble doing certain things.
The doctor may also do a breathing test, called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working by testing how much air you can breathe out after taking a very deep breath before and after you use asthma medicine.
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What Is Normal Breathing
When most of us breathe, the muscles that are wrapped around the air tubes are very loose and relaxed, and the lining inside the airways is very thin. This lets the airways open up very wide so that it is easy to get air in and out of the small air sacs that make up our lungs. These small sacs are called alveoli . When air moves in and out of our lungs, we call it breathing.
The picture below shows what your lungs look like when everything is working normally. The muscles wrapped around the airways are very thin and loose, and the airway is wide open. This makes it easy to move air in and out of the air sacs.
The animation below shows normal breathing. As we breathe in, air that contains lots of oxygen is pulled into the lungs. This oxygen slowly moves from the lungs into the blood. Then air that contains carbon dioxide is pushed back out through the lungs as we breathe out. When things are working normally, the amount of air we breathe in is about the same as the amount of air we breathe out.
What lungs look like during normal breathing
When you are breathing normally, it takes about the same amount of time to breathe in as it does to breathe out .
During an asthma attack, it is harder and takes much longer to breathe out than to breathe in . Since it is so hard to breathe out during an asthma attack, more and more air gets trapped inside the lungs making it feel like you cant breathe in or out!
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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.
Can Stress Cause An Asthma Attack
Asthma attacks can be triggered by stress, but many asthma triggers are environmental, such as pollen, dust, pets, and tobacco smoke. Stress alone doesnt cause asthma attacks. But stress may be a factor in some people. Stress can trigger asthma symptoms in a number of ways. It may cause:.
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Confronting Colleagues And Friends
Every 10 seconds someone is having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack in the UK. It’s important to communicate with friends and colleagues about asthma symptoms so that they know what is normal for you and what to do in the event of an attack. It will also help them to become more aware of wearing strong-smelling perfumes that could cause your asthma symptoms.
“People may find it helpful to talk to their friends and colleagues about how fragrances can affect their asthma,” says Munde. “The best way to approach this is to be as honest as possible try explaining what it feels like when your asthma is triggered by perfume or explain how serious an asthma attack can be.
“If people with asthma tell their line manager or HR department about their asthma, they can make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure people are protected from their asthma triggers. This could mean that they consider other options for air fresheners in the workplace if people know that they trigger their asthma, or a desk change if they sit next to someone wearing perfume that triggers their symptoms,” she says.
Wood spent seven years on forced medical retirement because of her asthma symptoms. For a quarter of a million people with severe asthma, even the simplest tasks can feel like a marathon, never mind going to work. However, asthma doesn’t have to stop you getting on with your life.
For more information on managing your asthma triggers, visit Asthma UK.
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Vitamins That May Impact Your Asthma
Some scientists believe that asthma and vitamin deficiency are integrally linked. Researchers have looked into the role that certain vitaminslike vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin Eplay in the occurrence and severity of the disease. While it is clear that diet does influence the incidence and prevalence of asthma, what is less clear is whether vitamin supplementation can prevent asthma or improve its symptoms.
What To Do If You Are Having An Asthma Attack
If someone is having a mild asthma attack, they may be able to treat it with asthma medication, such as a quick-acting inhaler. Some mild asthma attacks may even resolve on their own.
It is important that people with asthma talk with their healthcare team about an asthma action plan. This is a plan that guides people through how to treat their asthma, depending on the symptoms they are experiencing, and what to do in case of an asthma attack.
A person will need to carry a reliever inhaler with them, which may contain asthma medication to relax the muscles around the airways. These medications include short-acting, rapid onset beta-2 agonist and anticholinergic bronchodilators.
A person can first try dealing with an asthma attack by:
- staying calm
- using quick-relief medications, usually through a blue inhaler, and following their asthma action plan
In the case of a severe asthma attack, it is essential to seek medical help or call 911 immediately. While waiting for help, a person should continue to take their inhaler medication as the manufacturer outlines.
After an asthma attack, regardless of whether medical help was necessary, the following steps are important:
According to the American Lung Association, people will need to see their doctor at least once a year if they have asthma and more frequently if they have symptoms.
A person should contact their doctor straight away if they:
Anyone who experiences any of the following needs emergency medical help:
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Different Types Of Triggers
There are two types of asthma triggers:
Inflammatory triggers set off an allergic reaction and can cause inflammation of the lung airways or tightening of the airway muscles. Inflammatory triggers include dust mites, animals, cockroaches, moulds, and pollens. Identification of allergic triggers is best confirmed by an allergists assessment.
Symptom triggers generally do not cause swelling, but they can provoke twitchy airways, especially if theyre already inflamed. Symptom triggers include smoke, exercise, cold air, chemical fumes , and intense emotions.
What Are The Signs Of A Severe Asthma Attack
Asthma may lead to a medical emergency.
Rescue inhalers can help you: inhalers
Seek medical help immediately for:
- Fast breathing with chest retractions
- Cyanosis which is tissue color changes on mucus membranes and fingertips or nail beds the color appears grayish or whitish on darker skin tones and bluish on lighter skin tones
- Rapid movement of nostrils
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What Are The Most Common Triggers Of Asthma Attacks
Common asthma attack triggers include:
- Coming into contact with allergens, such as pollen, animal fur, mould or dust
- Eating certain foods
- Environmental factors, such as pollution, poor air quality or cold air
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
- Taking medication such as beta blockers
- Stress or extreme emotion
How To Prevent An Asthma Attack
Preventing an asthma attack is easier to do if you know what triggers your asthma.
Avoidance of the triggers can help prevent an asthma attack in many cases, says David Stempel, MD, Senior VP of Clinical and Medical Affairs at Propeller Health. Asthma attacks can be further mitigated by taking preventative medications such as inhaled corticosteroids and in some cases using a short-acting bronchodilator, like albuterol, 15 minutes prior to exposure to a trigger like exercise.
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Treatment Of Stress And Anxiety Induced Asthma Attacks
After making the diagnosis, the first thing to manage is airways obstruction. That is achieved by using inhalatory bronchodilators, which can be beta-adrenergic agonists , or anticholinergics . Corticosteroids are often used in moderate to severe cases of asthma attacks. For very persistent cases, intravenous or oral administration of aminophylline is the next line treatment. Rarely, if airways get obstructed to the life-threatening point when the person cannot breathe at all, intravenous administration of epinephrine can be used. Epinephrine can cause fatal arrhythmias, so this measure should be used as a last resort and with great caution with constant monitoring of electrical activity of the heart by using ECG.
After eliminating the airways obstruction, it is important to make sure that the patient takes their prescribed therapy. This chronic therapy usually includes using inhalers with corticosteroids on a daily basis. There are also inhalers containing a combination of a corticosteroid and bronchodilatatory medications, in order to decrease the frequency of asthma attacks as much as possible. Some patients will never experience asthma attacks if they use the prescribed treatment appropriately.
How Does Stress Modify Inflammation
Having provided support for the basic premises of our working model, we now turn to details of how stress amplifies the immune response to asthma triggers. provides an overview of the relevant pathways, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axis, and the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic .
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Can Anxiety Mimic Asthma
Yes, anxiety can mimic asthma because anxiety is a stress-related illness, and often it is accompanied by physiological responses which make a person either feel breathless or have the same symptoms as asthma. Stomach pains and rapid heartbeat are associated with anxiety because anxiety is usually caused by stress and stress causes an increase in the level of adrenaline in the body. It is important to learn to control our anxiety because uncontrolled anxiety can lead to panic attacks that could further worsen our anxiety..
Fact Check: Can Prolonged Face Mask Use Cause An Asthma Attack
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, face masks have become an integrated part of everyday life. Although mask mandates vary across states, school districts and employers, wearing a mask is required at airports, federal properties, public transit and for the duration of flights.
Failure to comply with mask mandates within the aviation industry can result in physical removal, fines, termination, and registration on an airlines no-fly list. Exemptions are provided for children under the age of 2 and individuals with disabilities who have medical proof and have been granted an airlines pre-approval clearance before their flight departure.
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