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What Does Asthma Do To Your Lungs

Asthma And Other Diseases Can Have The Same Symptoms

How Asthma Affects Your Lungs and Your Life

When you have asthma, the lining of the airways in the lungs swells and the muscles around the airways get tight. Then the airways get narrow.

When you breathe, you have trouble moving air out of your lungs. As a result, you may cough, wheeze, feel short of breath, or have tightness in your chest. Exercise or cold air may make the symptoms worse.

However, those same symptoms can also be a sign of other lung problems, such as a common cold, bronchitis, or pneumonia. They can even be symptoms of heart disease and other diseases.

It is important to know the cause of your symptoms to make sure you get the right treatment. The treatment for asthma is very different from the treatment for pneumonia or heart disease.

Tips For Preserving Lung Health

Exercises cannot reverse lung damage. However, they can assist a person in using their lungs to their maximum capacity.

There are other methods to enhance and preserve lung health, like:

  • Refraining from smoking

If a person has symptoms of poor lung health, including:

  • Shortness of breath during regular activities
  • Pain when breathing
  • Cough that cannot go away

Consider consulting a doctor. The earlier you get the treatment for lung problems the outcome is likely to be better.

When To See A Gp

See a GP if you think you or your child may have asthma.

Several conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and correct treatment.

The GP will usually be able to diagnose asthma by asking about symptoms and carrying out some simple tests.

Find out more about how asthma is diagnosed.

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Low Magnesium Leads To Lower Lung Function

Studies have found that low intakes of magnesium in the diet are associated with lower lung function as shown through airway flow rates, airway hyper-reactivity, and increased risk of wheezing. Thus, it is important that the body receives adequate levels of magnesium for asthma and lung health.

In addition, magnesium has also been shown to inhibit cholinergic neuromuscular transmission, stabilize mast cells and t lymphocytes, and stimulate the generation of nitric oxide and prostacyclin. This means low magnesium in the diet may be a serious risk factor for lung diseases.

Pollen And Its Effect On The Body

Asthma

Part of a plants reproductive system, pollen consists of microscopic particles that must be transferred to various areas of a plants reproductive parts to produce viable seeds. Bees and other insects cross-pollinate plants, as well as wind. Pollen counts are based on how much pollen is in a cubic meter of air measured over 24 hours.

What does pollen do to your body? Pollen is responsible for many seasonal allergy symptoms, as well as asthma. Common sources of pollen-producing asthma come from plants such as ragweed, lambs quarters, Russian thistle, Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda grass, Johnson and Timothy grasses, and various wind-pollinated trees like ash, elm, oak, hickory, box elder, pecan, and mountain cedar.

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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.

What Are The Symptoms

Asthma can be different for everyone. Asthma symptoms can also vary over time, with few or no symptoms when asthma is well controlled. The common signs and symptoms of poorly controlled asthma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble sleeping because of breathing difficulty
  • Being unable to take part in physical activities without breathing difficulty

These symptoms can occur slowly over hours or days, or they can come on as sudden, recurring attacks after which the symptoms can persist for some time before disappearing. If left untreated, asthma can cause permanent structural changes in your airways called airway remodelling, which is why it is important to get your asthma under control and keep treating it over the long term.

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Will It Ever Go Away

Asthma has a variable course. Many children with asthma see it improve or appear to go away as they get older. This can happen any time in childhood or adolescence. If asthma was only intermittent in nature and triggered by viral respiratory infections , there is an excellent likelihood that asthma will be much less of a problem as the child gets older. Sometimes the nature of the asthma changes with age. A young child may have asthma initially only from viral infections. As the child ages, asthma may occur less from viral infections , but inhalant allergy may become an important contributor to the asthma. If asthma persists into adult life, or returns later in adult life after a period of remission, persisting asthmatic symptoms may not be readily explainable by any environmental factors.

Whatever the course, however, asthma is virtually always controllable with acceptably safe measures. While ongoing medical evaluation of asthma should assess whether the disease is still active and continues to need treatment, it is not wise to withhold treatment in the hope that asthma will go away by itself. That may indeed occur, but it may not, and there can be considerable avoidable suffering and disability in the interim.

Who Can Get Asthma

Patient Journey: What Happens in Your Lungs During an Asthma Attack (360 Video)

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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Asthma Outcomes And The Whole Patient: Beyond The Pharmacological

The stepped pharmacotherapy strategy familiar from asthma guidelines may encourage the belief that stronger medication is needed when control is poor. Some patients do indeed have severe, therapy-resistant disease, requiring more effective pharmacotherapy. However, good-quality management can often improve outcomes even in this group , and psychosocial problems and non-adherence are common in people with asthma of all severity levels. Asthma is incurable and usually a lifelong condition, and the recurrent and unpredictable experience of having to struggle to breathe is frightening and disturbing, potentially undermining overall wellbeing. If other life stressors are present, such as co-morbidity, psychosocial disadvantage or a lack or resilience to stress resulting from genetic or environmentally factors, some will experience symptoms as more distressing and may not cope with them well.

Over-breathing and abnormal breathing patterns are commonly associated with anxiety, and breathing-control exercises have long been used as a treatment for anxiety and panic. Hyperventilation and other abnormalities in breathing have also been associated with asthma, implicated as triggers for bronchoconstriction and the production of asthma-like symptoms in patients of all levels of objective asthma severity .

What Are Common Asthma Attack Triggers

An asthma attack happens when someone comes in contact with substances that irritate them. Healthcare providers call these substances triggers. Knowing what triggers your asthma makes it easier to avoid asthma attacks.

For some people, a trigger can bring on an attack right away. Sometimes, an attack may start hours or days later.

Triggers can be different for each person. But some common triggers include:

  • Air pollution: Many things outside can cause an asthma attack. Air pollution includes factory emissions, car exhaust, wildfire smoke and more.
  • Dust mites: You cant see these bugs, but they are in many homes. If you have a dust mite allergy, they can cause an asthma attack.
  • Exercise: For some people, exercising can cause an attack.
  • Mold: Damp places can spawn mold. It can cause problems for people with asthma. You dont even have to be allergic to mold to have an attack.
  • Pests: Cockroaches, mice and other household pests can cause asthma attacks.
  • Pets: Your pets can cause asthma attacks. If youre allergic to pet dander , breathing in the dander can irritate your airways.
  • Tobacco smoke: If you or someone in your home smokes, you have a higher risk of developing asthma. The best solution is to quit smoking.
  • Strong chemicals or smells.

With asthma, you may not have all of these symptoms. You may have different signs at different times. And symptoms can change between asthma attacks.

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Asthma And Breathing Exercises

Exercising can be more challenging when you have asthma, especially if youre worried it might set off an asthma attack. But exercise is beneficial for your overall health and your asthma. In fact, having regular exercise could result in improving your asthma symptoms, as increasing your heart rate helps improve your lung power, boost stamina and reduce breathlessness.

In addition, regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of an asthma attack. Exercising also releases chemicals in your brain called endorphins, which can raise your mood and help you feel better.

The best types to do if you have asthma are:

  • Swimming the warm moist air in a swimming pool is asthma-friendly. Swimming is a good low-impact cardiovascular workout that helps the whole of your body and especially the muscles you use for breathing.
  • Walking walking is a great way to improve your fitness, especially if you need to build up slowly.
  • Cycling steady cycling can improve movement and endurance levels, without overstraining the lungs.
  • Jogging jogging can help strengthen the muscles you use for breathing, as well as improve your fitness as a whole.
  • Team sports team sports that involve short bursts of physical activity, such as netball, volleyball, football or athletics can be good choices to try.

Personal Asthma Action Plan

Why does asthma make it difficult to breathe?

As part of your initial assessment, you should be encouraged to draw up a personal asthma action plan with your GP or asthma nurse.

If you’ve been admitted to hospital because of an asthma attack, you should be offered an action plan before you go home.

The action plan should include information about your asthma medicines, and will help you recognise when your symptoms are getting worse and what steps to take. You should also be given information about what to do if you have an asthma attack.

Your personal asthma action plan should be reviewed with your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year, or more frequently if your symptoms are severe.

As part of your asthma plan, you may be given a peak flow meter. This will give you another way of monitoring your asthma, rather than relying only on symptoms, so you can recognise deterioration earlier and take appropriate steps.

Want to know more?

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How Asthma Affects Your Airways

Asthma is a complicated disease, and doctors don’t completely understand its causes. But it has two main components: inflammation and muscle constriction.

Asthma affects the airways, the bronchial tubes that carry air into the lungs. In people with asthma, the lining of these airways becomes inflamed. No one is sure why this first develops. But certain allergy triggers or irritants begin to trigger this swelling.

If you take long-term control medicines — like inhaled corticosteroids — you can reduce this swelling and keep the airways healthy. But if your asthma goes untreated, problems develop. Over time, this constant inflammation can destroy the surface layer of the airways, says Hugh H. Windom, MD, associate clinical professor of immunology at the University of South Florida.

“The surface layer acts as a kind of filter,” Windom says. “But once it’s gone, all of the pollutants and allergens have direct access into the lungs.” So asthma can cause damage to the airways that, in turn, makes the asthma worse.

Asthma also affects the muscles that surround the airways. During an attack, these muscles tighten and further restrict the amount of air getting into the lungs.

Eventually, the constant inflammation and muscle constriction can have irreversible effects.

Can Vaping Cause Lung Cancer

Cancer is definitely a concern, given that vaping introduces a host of chemicals into the lungs. But vaping products havent been around long enough for us to learn whether or not they cause cancer.

We do know that smoking tobacco forces tiny particles to be deposited deep in the bronchial tree and can lead to the development of cancer. The same may be true for vaping, says Broderick.

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Asthma: A Surprisingly Silent Disease

Asthma is known for its obvious and noisy symptoms: wheezing, gasping, and coughing. But experts say that the typical impression of asthma is not always correct.

“Asthma can sometimes be a silent disease,” says Bernstein. “People can walk around with very serious asthma, with significant blockages of their airways, and not show any symptoms.”

Windom agrees. “The severity of asthma symptoms really may not reflect the severity of the underlying disease,” he says. Even if you feel fine, your asthma may still be damaging your airways — and you may be closer to a serious attack than you realize.

Even if you do have symptoms, you may not have an accurate impression of how much they affect you.

“There’s no question that people with asthma tend to think they have much better control over their condition than they actually do,” Edelman tells WebMD.

In a 2005 poll of over 4,500 adults with asthma in the U.S. sponsored by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, 88% said that their condition was “under control.” But experts question their optimistic judgment. About 48% said that their symptoms disturbed their sleep. And 50% said that asthma has made them give up in the middle of a workout. Those are severe symptoms for people who supposedly have their condition “under control.”

While many adults have trouble assessing their own asthma, it’s a special problem for children. They may not remember life without symptoms.

The Chemicals You Inhale When Vaping

What Asthma Looks and Feels Like

Instead of bathing lung tissue with a therapeutic mist, just as a nebulizer does, vaping coats lungs with potentially harmful chemicals. E-liquid concoctions usually include some mix of flavorings, aromatic additives and nicotine or THC , dissolved in an oily liquid base. We think that some of the vaporized elements of the oil are getting deep down into the lungs and causing an inflammatory response, explains Broderick.

The substance at the center of investigation is vitamin E. Its often used as a thickening and delivery agent in e-liquid. And, while its safe when taken orally as a supplement or used on the skin, its likely an irritant when inhaled. Its been found in the lungs of people with severe, vaping-related damage.

Other common substances found in e-liquid or produced when its heated up may also pose a risk to the lungs. These include:

  • Diacetyl: This food additive, used to deepen e-cigarette flavors, is known to damage small passageways in the lungs.
  • Formaldehyde: This toxic chemical can cause lung disease and contribute to heart disease.
  • Acrolein: Most often used as a weed killer, this chemical can also damage lungs.

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Provide Personal Protective Equipment

As mentioned earlier, the main cause of most occupational diseases are due to the inhalation of irritants, allergens, and infectious agents in the workplace. Inhaling harmful particles such as silica, asbestos, beryllium, dust, fumes, and coal may lead to the development of pneumoconiosis. Additionally, infectious agents like the COVID-19 virus and Legionella bacteria can cause severe pneumonia.

Industrial workplaces that have increased exposure for these agents should ensure employees are provided with personal protective equipment. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends the use of N95 respirator masks. At higher concentrations of airborne silica , they recommend the use of powered respirators .

The US government and the CDC have created a guideline for the re-opening of business establishments. Make sure youre updated on the latest criteria and guidelines at .

To provide a brief summary of the guideline employers must have policies regarding proper social distancing and provision of protective equipment, temperature checkpoints, contact tracing, quarantine and sanitation/disinfection of the workplace.

Prevention is always better than cure. By providing your employees with adequate protective equipment and investing in their health, your business will also benefit.

What Are The Treatments For Asthma

If you have asthma, you will work with your health care provider to create a treatment plan. The plan will include ways to manage your asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. It will include

  • Strategies to avoid triggers. For example, if tobacco smoke is a trigger for you, you should not smoke or allow other people to smoke in your home or car.
  • Short-term relief medicines, also called quick-relief medicines. They help prevent symptoms or relieve symptoms during an asthma attack. They include an inhaler to carry with you all the time. It may also include other types of medicines which work quickly to help open your airways.
  • Control medicines. You take them every day to help prevent symptoms. They work by reducing airway inflammation and preventing narrowing of the airways.

If you have a severe attack and the short-term relief medicines do not work, you will need emergency care.

Your provider may adjust your treatment until asthma symptoms are controlled.

Sometimes asthma is severe and cannot be controlled with other treatments. If you are an adult with uncontrolled asthma, in some cases your provider might suggest bronchial thermoplasty. This is a procedure that uses heat to shrink the smooth muscle in the lungs. Shrinking the muscle reduces your airway’s ability to tighten and allows you to breathe more easily. The procedure has some risks, so it’s important to discuss them with your provider.

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