Sunday, October 2, 2022
HomeWhat Happens When You Have Asthma

What Happens When You Have Asthma

How Do My Airways React To Triggers

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

If you have asthma you have sensitive airways that are inflamed and ready to react when they come into contact with something they don’t like.

If you come into contact with one of your asthma triggers it causes your airways to react in three ways:

  • The muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower.
  • The lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell.
  • Sticky mucus or phlegm sometimes builds up, which can narrow the airways even more.
  • These reactions in the airways make it difficult to breathe and lead to asthma symptoms, such as chest tightness, wheezing, or coughing. It can also lead to an asthma attack.

    Asthma Causes And Triggers

    When you have asthma, your airways react to things in the world around you. Doctors call these asthma triggers. They might cause symptoms or make them worse. Common asthma triggers include:

    • Infections like sinusitis, colds, and the flu
    • Allergens such as pollens, mold, pet dander, and dust mites
    • Irritants like strong odors from perfumes or cleaning solutions
    • Air pollution
    • Strong emotions such as anxiety, laughter, sadness, or stress
    • Medications such as aspirin
    • Food preservatives called sulfites, found in things like shrimp, pickles, beer and wine, dried fruits, and bottled lemon and lime juices

    How Is Asthma Diagnosed

    Your health care provider may use many tools to diagnose asthma:

    • Physical exam
    • Medical history
    • Lung function tests, including spirometry, to test how well your lungs work
    • Tests to measure how your airways react to specific exposures. During this test, you inhale different concentrations of allergens or medicines that may tighten the muscles in your airways. Spirometry is done before and after the test.
    • Peak expiratory flow tests to measure how fast you can blow air out using maximum effort
    • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide tests to measure levels of nitric oxide in your breath when you breathe out. High levels of nitric oxide may mean that your lungs are inflamed.
    • Allergy skin or blood tests, if you have a history of allergies. These tests check which allergens cause a reaction from your immune system.

    Read Also: Drug Induced Asthma

    Research For Your Health

    The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including asthma. Learn about the current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.

    What You Need To Know About Your Childs Asthma

    What happens when you have Asthma?

    There are many things to think about and plan for when your child has asthma. It is important to learn as much as you can about the condition. Your doctor and pharmacist are there to help you. Talk to them about any concerns you may have about your childs asthma. To manage your childs asthma effectively, it is important to know:

    • the pattern of their asthma
    • their asthma medications what they do and how to help your child take them properly
    • what to do if they have an asthma attack know and follow asthma first aid.

    Make sure you have an updated written asthma action plan and understand how to use it.

    Read Also: What Does Asthma Do To The Body

    Signs Symptoms And Complications

    How often signs and symptoms of asthma occur may depend on how severe, or intense, the asthma is and whether you are exposed to allergens. Some people have symptoms every day, while others have symptoms only a few days of the year. For some people, asthma may cause discomfort but does not interfere with daily activities. If you have more severe asthma, however, your asthma may limit what you are able to do.

    When asthma is well controlled, a person shows few symptoms. When symptoms worsen, a person can have what is called an asthma attack, or an exacerbation. Over time, uncontrolled asthma can damage the airways in the lungs.

    Asthma Action Plans For Children

    An asthma action planis a clear written summary of instructions for when your childs asthma symptoms change. Everyone with asthma should have a personalised asthma action plan written by their doctor.

    Your childs asthma action plan will tell you:

    • how to recognise when your childs asthma is getting worse or an attack is developing, and the steps you should take to manage it
    • symptoms that are serious, indicating a need for urgent medical help
    • your childs asthma triggers.

    Make sure you understand and can follow the asthma action plan from your doctor.

    Also Check: Steroid Dependent Asthma

    How And When To Use Your Inhaler

    Only use your salbutamol when you need it. This may be when you notice symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest or you know that you are going to do an activity that can make you breathless, for example climbing stairs or sport. You should feel a difference to your breathing within a few minutes.

    The normal way for adults and children to use their inhaler is:

    • 1 or 2 puffs of salbutamol when you need it
    • up to a maximum of 4 times in 24 hours

    Salbutamol is sometimes prescribed to prevent breathing symptoms happening in the first place. This could be before a trigger such as exercise or exposure to pets. In this situation, the normal dose is still 1 or 2 puffs at a time.

    If you need to use your inhaler more than 4 times in 24 hours:

    • it may mean that your health problem is getting worse and that you need different treatment
    • you are more likely to get side effects such as increased heart rate, jitteriness, nervousness and headaches

    Make an appointment to see your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you need to use your inhaler:

    • more than 4 times in 24 hours
    • more than 2 days of each week
    • in the middle of the night at least once a week

    Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Asthma Without Inhaler

    Medical History And Physical Exam

    Asthma – What Happens During an Asthma Attack?

    Your doctor will ask about your risk factors for asthma and your symptoms. They may ask also about any known allergies. This includes how often symptoms occur, what seems to trigger your symptoms, when or where symptoms occur, and if your symptoms wake you up at night.

    During the physical exam, your doctor may:

    • Listen to your breathing and look for symptoms of asthma
    • Look for allergic skin conditions, such as eczema

    Read Also: How Often Can You Use A Nebulizer For Asthma

    Is Vaping Beneficial For People With Asthma

    People who vape report that vaping has a beneficial effect on their symptoms. Whats more, the release of moisture helps sinus congestion. Research shows that individuals who switched to vaping report some significant improvement in the long-term. Last but not least, a survey reveals that vaping may reverse the risk of asthma and lung damage in smokers.

    More doctors are recommending that asthma patients go to the steam room to help with their asthma. The moisture in the air helps relieve some symptoms. The problem with steam rooms is the extreme heat. Could vaping deliver the same results without needing to sit in a hot room full of steam?

    How Do I Work Out What My Triggers Are

    A trigger is something that can make asthma worse. The bodys immune system over-reacts to certain things which may cause an asthma flare-up. There are a number of things that can trigger asthma including environmental, emotional, allergic, and infective factors.

    Triggers are different for everyone and often it is not just one trigger that sets-off an asthma attack, but a combination of several triggers around the same time. Knowing as much as you can about your asthma triggers is important, so that you can avoid or reduce your exposure to them.

    Identifying your triggers is often trial and error so it is useful to keep a note of what you have been in contact with when you find that your symptoms are becoming worse. Allergy testing can be done to identify an immune response, ask your doctor about this.

    You May Like: Relieving Asthma Symptoms Without Inhaler

    Recommended Reading: Asthma Smooth Muscle

    Asthma Isnt An Excuse Not To Work Out

    • Warm up and cool down before exercising. This will help you lungs get acclimated to the air.
    • Avoid working out during cold weather. If you do, cover your mouth and nose.
    • Avoid working out when you have a cold or viral infection.
    • Always use your inhaler or prescribed medication before you work out.

    You shouldnt use EIB as an excuse not to work out and get exercise. Its likely possible as long as you work with your doctor, find a regimen that works for you and take any medication as necessary, said EXPERT. Dr. Navitha Ramesh is a pulmonologist at Geisinger Wyoming Valley. To schedule an appointment, call 800-275-6401.

    Geisinger Health Plan may refer collectively to Geisinger Health Plan, Geisinger Quality Options Inc., and Geisinger Indemnity Insurance Company, unless otherwise noted. Geisinger Gold Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, and HMO D-SNP plans are offered by Geisinger Health Plan/Geisinger Indemnity Insurance Company, health plans with a Medicare contract. Continued enrollment in Geisinger Gold depends on annual contract renewal. Geisinger Health Plan Kids and Geisinger Health Plan Family are offered by Geisinger Health Plan in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services . Geisinger Health Plan is part of Geisinger, an integrated health care delivery and coverage organization.

    So What Are The Symptoms You Should Watch Out For

    What Happens in Your Airways When You Have Asthma ...

    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:

    Recommended Reading: Exercise Induced Asthma Definition

    What Does Asthma Feel Like

    Asthma is marked by inflammation of the bronchial tubes, with extra sticky secretions inside the tubes. People with asthma have symptoms when the airways tighten, inflame, or fill with mucus.

    There are three major signs of asthma:

    • Airway blockage. When you breathe as usual, the bands of muscle around your airways are relaxed, and air moves freely. But when you have asthma, the muscles tighten. It√Ęs harder for air to pass through.
    • Inflammation. Asthma causes red, swollen bronchial tubes in your lungs. This inflammation can damage your lungs. Treating this is key to managing asthma in the long run.
    • Airway irritability. People with asthma have sensitive airways that tend to overreact and narrow when they come into contact with even slight triggers.

    These problems may cause symptoms such as:

    Not every person with asthma has the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, being mild during one and severe during another.

    Some people with asthma may go for long periods without having any symptoms. Others might have problems every day. In addition, some people may have asthma only during exercise or with viral infections like colds.

    When to see your doctor

    What Happens To The Lungs In Asthma

    Asthma is a condition in which the airways of the lungs become either narrowed or completely blocked, obstructing normal breathing. This obstruction of the lungs, however, is reversible, either spontaneously or with medication . That is why asthma is technically called Reversible Obstructive Airway Disease . The basic abnormality causing asthma is the hyper responsive reaction of the body to specific and non-specific stimuli.

    Air reaches the lung through the windpipe , which divides into two large tubes , one for each lung. Each bronchi further divides into many little tubes , which eventually lead to tiny air sacs , in which oxygen from the air is transferred to the bloodstream, and carbon dioxide from the bloodstream is transferred to the air.

    Although the airways normally have the potential for constricting in response to allergens or irritants, the asthmatics airways are more prone to constriction due to increased response to allergens. This insult makes the airways more prone to infection leading to inflammation and swelling causing further constriction of the pipes. Infection also causes increased mucus production and this clogs the narrowed airways.

    Once the airways have become obstructed, it takes more effort to force air through them and breathing becomes labored. This forcing of air through constricted airways can make a whistling sound, called wheezing. Irritation of the airways by excessive mucus may also provoke coughing.

    Also Check: Nasal Inhaler Side Effects

    Can Asthma Be Cured

    There is currently no known cure for asthma, but with proper diagnosis and asthma management it is fully possible for people with asthma to live healthy, active and symptom-free lives.

    There is still much research that needs to be done to fully understand how to prevent, treat and cure asthma. Asthma Canadas National Research Program is committed to supporting leading asthma researchers and graduate student researchers working to expand our knowledge and one day, unlock a cure.

    What Happens Internally During An Asthma Attack

    What happens in the lungs when an asthma attack occurs? (3D animation)

    When you experience a trigger, the insides of your airways swell even more. This narrows the space for air to move in and out of the lungs. The muscles that wrap around your airways also can tighten, making breathing even harder. When that happens, its called an asthma flare-up, asthma episode or asthma attack.

    Read Also: Otc Asthma Med

    Everyday Treatment For Asthma In Children

    The main aims of day-to-day asthma treatment are to:

    • keep symptoms under control
    • keep lungs as healthy as possible
    • stop asthma from interfering with school or play
    • help your child enjoy a full and active life.

    Your doctor will help you to develop a plan to manage your childs asthma which will include an asthma action plan , and will prescribe the correct medication to help you do so.

    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.

    Recommended Reading: Familial Asthma

    Does Asthma Ever Go Away

    Yup! A lot of kids find their asthma goes away or becomes less serious as they get older. Some doctors think this happens because the airways grow wider as a kid grows up and gets bigger. With more room in the airways, the air has an easier time getting in and out.

    Some people do have asthma as adults, but it doesn’t have to slow them down. Some top athletes manage their asthma while still competing at professional and Olympic levels.

    Signs Of Asthma Absolutely Everyone Should Know

    How to Cure Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

    You might think you know the signs of asthma because hey, it seems like one of those health conditions that is absolutely unmistakable. Its kind of obvious if you justcant really breathe, right? Sure, but asthma symptoms can present with a lot more complexity and subtlety than that. Many people do not realize they have asthma and deal with daily symptoms, Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network, tells SELF. Because of that, you should be aware of the signs of asthma so you dont write them off for months or even years without realizing you have this persistentand ultimately treatablehealth condition.

    Don’t Miss: Ibuprofen For Asthma

    How Is Asthma Classified

    Doctors rank how bad asthma is by its symptoms:

  • Mild intermittent asthma. Mild symptoms less than twice a week. Nighttime symptoms less than twice a month. Few asthma attacks.
  • Mild persistent asthma. Symptoms three to six times a week. Nighttime symptoms three to four times a month. Asthma attacks might affect activities.
  • Moderate persistent asthma. Daily asthma symptoms. Nighttime attacks five or more times a month. Symptoms may affect activities.
  • Severe persistent asthma. Ongoing symptoms both day and night. You have to limit your activities.
  • Your asthma may be getting worse if:

    • You have symptoms more often and they interfere more with your daily life.
    • You have a hard time breathing. You can measure this with a device called a peak flow meter.
    • You need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often.

    RELATED ARTICLES

    Most Popular