What Types Of Asthma Are There
Healthcare providers identify asthma as intermittent or persistent . Persistent asthma can be mild, moderate or severe. Healthcare providers base asthma severity on how often you have attacks. They also consider how well you can do things during an attack.
Asthma can be:
- Allergic: Some peoples allergies can cause an asthma attack. Molds, pollens and other allergens can cause an attack.
- Non-allergic: Outside factors can cause asthma to flare up. Exercise, stress, illness and weather may cause a flare.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Asthma
If you think that you have asthma, the best thing you can do is see your healthcare provider as soon as possible for proper testing and diagnosis. Many people normalize their symptoms, without ever realizing that a symptom-free life could be possible. Its crucial to never ignore or downplay your asthma symptoms, you never know when something could trigger a potentially fatal asthma attack.
The sooner that you get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, the sooner you can take control of your asthma and live life to the fullest.
What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
- Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
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How Do I Handle An Asthma Flare
If you feel like a flare-up is about to happen, stay calm. Let people around you know what’s going on. Then remember your asthma action plan. That’s the written plan that tells you what to do next.
Stay calm and focus on what your asthma action plan says. Your doctor probably told you to use your quick-relief medicine, so do that first.
If you can figure out what triggered your symptoms , remove the trigger or yourself from the area. Sometimes that’s all you need to get your asthma under control again.
If a flare-up is more severe, you might need to get help.
What Should I Do If I Have A Severe Asthma Attack
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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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.
How Is The Condition Diagnosed
To diagnose asthma, your physician will question you about your symptoms, perform a physical exam, and conduct lung function tests. You also may be tested for allergies.
Your internist or family physician may refer you to an allergist or pulmonologist for specialized testing or treatment.
After middle age, most adults experience a decrease in their lung capacity. These changes in lung function may lead some physicians to overlook asthma as a possible diagnosis.
Untreated asthma can contribute to even greater permanent loss of lung function. If you have any asthma symptoms, dont ignore them, and dont try to treat them yourself. Get a definitive diagnosis from your health care provider.
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So What Are The Symptoms You Should Watch Out For
Which signs of asthma you might experience differs from person to person and some are more common than others, Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, tells SELF. Its possible that youll have such a mild reaction to one of your personal asthma triggers that you dont take much note of it. But if the effects get worse, they can turn into an asthma attack, which is a potentially life-threatening exacerbation of asthma symptoms. Thats why its so important to know the common signs of asthma, including the more subtle ones.
These are classic asthma signs you should know:
Shortness of breath: This is an obvious complication that happens when you cant get enough oxygen due to the way your airways and their surrounding muscles are reacting to asthma triggers, Sadia Benzaquen, M.D., a pulmonologist and associate professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, tells SELF.
Cough: When an irritant gets into your throat or airways, it stimulates nerves that prompt your brain to make the muscles in your chest and abdomen expel air from your lungs with a cough, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since a sensitivity to irritants can cause asthma symptoms, coughing is a hallmark sign of this condition, says Dr. Benzaquen. In fact, its the most common sign of asthma Dr. Parikh has seen people ignore.
Some people may have these less common signs of asthma:
Symptoms Of A Collapsed Lung
Sometimes as an asthmatic, we have a chronic pain associated with our lungs and difficulty breathing for extended periods. That being said, here are some symptoms of a collapsing lung to look out for:
- Sharp and stabbing pain on one side of the chest
- If that pain increases as you try to inhale
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What’s An Asthma Flare
An asthma flare-up is when asthma symptoms get worse, making someone wheeze, cough, or be short of breath. An asthma flare-up can happen even when asthma is controlled.
Asthma flare-ups are also called asthma attacks or exacerbations.
How Asthma Is Treated
While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.
Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:
- relieving symptoms;
- preventing future symptoms and attacks
For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.
You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.
These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.
Read our page on the;causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.
Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.
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My Chest Feels Tight And Heavy
This one is usually how I feel when my asthma is acting up. For me, an asthma attack feels like I am wearing a really tight corset while trying to breathe through a coffee stirrer straw. I personally don\’t wheeze and my chest gets really tight like I am wearing a corset that is four sizes too small. When the airways constrict it leads to the tight feeling.
Know The Asthma Symptoms In Children
Asthma affects as many as 10% to 12% of children in the United States and is the leading cause of chronic illness in children. For unknown reasons, the incidence of asthma in children is steadily increasing. While asthma symptoms can begin at any age, most children have their first asthma symptoms by age 5.
For more detail, see WebMDâs Asthma in Children.
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Can Asthma Reappear In Adults After Disappearing Years Ago
Asthma is usually diagnosed in childhood. In many patients; however, the symptoms will disappear or are significantly reduced after puberty. After age 20, symptoms may begin to reappear.
Researchers have tracked this tendency for reappearing asthma and found that people with childhood asthma tend to experience reappearing symptoms through their 30s and 40s at various levels of severity.
Regardless of whether your asthma is active, you should continue to avoid your known triggers and keep your rescue medications or prescriptions up-to-date and handy in case you need them.
Asthma Attack = Drowning
Even though;symptoms and triggers vary from person to person, most asthmatics will feel like theyre not getting enough oxygen while having as asthma attack. And that feels like drowning.
Of course, if youre under water, you literally have no air to breathe. But when youre experiencing an asthma attack, youre surrounded by air your body just isnt doing its job of oxygenating itself efficiently.
And this is what leads to all the awful feelings experienced by those having an asthma attack.
If you dont have asthma and youre curious what this might actually feel like, try this little experiment. Get in your bed and pull the covers tightly over your head. There should be a pocket of air under the covers, but it wont last long.
As the air runs out and becomes stale, youll still be able to breathe, but it just wont feel the same as taking a big breath of fresh air. Youll soon start to feel like youre overheating and maybe even start to sweat.
This is the point where any sane person would simply take the covers off and breathe normally again. But what if you cant??? Thats the experience of an asthmatic with poorly managed asthma, having an attack without a rescue inhaler. Scary.
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What Is Good Asthma Care
Your doctor or nurse will tailor your asthma treatment to your symptoms. Sometimes you may need to be on higher levels of medication than at others.
You should be offered:
- care at your GP surgery provided by doctors and nurses trained in asthma management
- full information about your condition and how to control it
- involvement in making decisions about your treatment
- regular checks to ensure your asthma is under control and your treatment is right for you
- a written personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse
It is also important that your GP or pharmacist teaches you how to properly use your inhaler, as this is an important part of good asthma care.
Chest Tightness In Asthma Symptoms
When you have chest tightness due to your asthma, you may feel like you can’t easily push air in and out of your chest. With asthma, mild chest tightness can be present all or most of the time, but it may worsen in response to asthma triggers and in the hours or minutes before an asthma exacerbation.
Not all people who have asthma experience chest tightness. But there is a type of asthma described as chest tightness variant asthma in which this symptom is especially frequent.
Symptoms of chest tightness include:
- A feeling that your chest is constricted, as if there’s a band around it
- A sense that you’re trying to push against your chest from the inside as you breathe
- A struggle to fully exhale
- Difficulty inhaling
When the feeling of chest tightness triggers anxiety, your sense of not being able to move air through your lungs can worsen.
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Whats The First Thing To Do When Asthma Symptoms Begin
The moment you first notice symptoms use your prescribed quick-relief inhaler containing albuterol or levalbuterol medicine. This medication will relax the muscles that surround the airways, making it easier to breathe within a few short minutes. Use your quick-relief inhaler at the first sign of symptoms;or;before exercise;to prevent symptoms from getting out of control.
Asthma Symptoms Can Mimic Other Illnesses Or Diseases Especially In Older Adults For Example:
- Hiatal hernia, stomach problems, heart failure, or rheumatic 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.
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How To Prevent An Asthma Attack
- Follow your asthma medication plan to make sure your asthma is well managed with preventive medication. When your asthma is properly under control, you shouldnt experience asthma attacks.
- There are different asthma types that all have different characteristics and triggers. Knowing your personal triggers can help you to prevent an asthma attack.
- If you experience asthma attacks or have regular symptoms of asthma, it might be time to book a check-up with your healthcare provider. This will help you to make sure you have the right type of medication for the right symptoms and situation.
Asthma Attack = Heavy Chest
The main sensation I feel when as asthma attack begins to occur is a feeling of weight on the chest. Each breath takes extra effort.
And each breath feels like its not enough, because each breath is not getting enough oxygen to the blood stream. This is true even when I take what feels like a deep breath its just never deep enough.;
For me, asthma attacks almost feel like when youve stuffed yourself on a big meal, and you feel overfull and have acid reflux.;
So if you dont have asthma, imagine youve just eaten the biggest, most acidic meal of your life. Youve never felt so full. And youre sitting on your couch breathing heavy. Youve got a general sense of discomfort and burning in your upper chest area and throat.
And no matter which way you adjust your body, whether you sit up or sit down or move around or lie down the awful feelings persist.
Thats what an asthma attack feels like. Except with indigestion, you just have to wait for the food to digest. For asthmatics, its not so easy.
With uncontrolled asthma, an asthma attack will likely get worse and worse until its treated with medicine.
I talk about how its important for asthmatics to try to use their rescue inhaler less during tough moments, but a true asthma attack will need intervention.
This is why its crucial for people with asthma to always keep their rescue inhaler close by.
Even if you manage your asthma well like I do , you never know when you might need it.;
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Explaining Your Symptoms To Your Gp
Its a good idea to start a diary of your symptoms before speaking to your GP. Taking note of when symptoms flare-up may help you to understand your triggers. This diary will then help your GP to understand and properly assess your condition. You could also try filming your symptoms if they are hard to describe.
There are several different tests for asthma – so your GP wont be able to diagnose you straightaway. Our advice on diagnosing asthma explains this process in more detail.
If You Suspect You Might Have Asthma Definitely Head To The Doctor
Your doctor will probably give you a physical exam first to examine the general state of your health. After that, theyll likely put you through some lung function tests, such as a spirometry, which checks how much air you can exhale after taking a deep breath as well as how fast you can expel air, according to the Mayo Clinic. Or they may do a peak flow test, which measures how hard you can breathe out. If you cant exhale enough air or breathe out quickly, it may be a sign your lungs arent working well, which could point to asthma, Dr. Benzaquen says.
There are other exams they can use, too, like exposing you to methacholine, a known asthma trigger, to see if your airways narrow, or allergy testing, since allergies and asthma are so often connected.
If you are diagnosed with asthma, itll be within one of four categories, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mild intermittent asthma means you have minimal asthma symptoms for up to two days a week and up to two nights a month, while mild persistent asthma means youre experiencing symptoms more frequently than twice a week, but not more than once on any given day. Moderate persistent asthma ups the ante: Youre dealing with symptoms once a day and more than one night a week. Finally, severe persistent asthma involves constant symptoms most days and frequently at night too.
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