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What Is Asthma And Its Symptoms

What Is The Prognosis For Asthma

Asthma and its symptoms || Asthma causes symptoms and treatment

The prognosis for asthma is generally favorable. Children experience complete remission more often than adults. Although adults with asthma experience a greater rate of loss in their lung function as compared to age-controlled counterparts, this decline is usually not as severe as seen in other conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema. Asthma in the absence of other comorbidities does not appear to shorten life expectancy. Risk factors for poor prognosis from asthma include

  • a history of hospitalizations, especially ICU admissions or intubation,
  • frequent reliance on systemic steroids,
  • significant medical comorbidities.

The airway narrowing in asthma may become fixed over time and can resemble COPD or emphysema. The other main complication of asthma is due to side effects from oral steroid use, which can include bone loss , weight gain, and glucose intolerance.

Whats An Asthma Attack

When you breathe normally, muscles around your airways are relaxed, letting air move easily. During an asthma attack, three things can happen:

  • Bronchospasm: The muscles around the airways constrict . When they tighten, it makes the airways narrow. Air cannot flow freely through constricted airways.
  • Inflammation: The airway linings become swollen. Swollen airways dont let as much air in or out of the lungs.
  • Mucus production: During the attack, your body creates more mucus. This thick mucus clogs airways.

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

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Asthma And Stress Can Cause A Bad Attack

Asthma and stress are not good companions. If you ever felt your breathing get worse when you are having relationship or financial problems, you are not alone.

Asthma has physical and medical influences.

More and more sufferers are becoming aware of the influence of these two on each other. Asthma can certainly be a cause of stress, and this can definitely make it more difficult to control.

Feelings of anxiety or panic can come from many sources, such as work or social situations. And many people have trouble controlling their breathing when they are stressed.

Many people who have asthma often say that it tends to be worse whenever they are upset or under stress and it affects their breathing.

Stress can make a bad situation worse. In recent years, there have been an increasing number of both human and animal studies that link psychological and emotional stress to illness.

Asthma can certainly be triggered or worsen by stress, and this makes it more difficult to treat.

What Is Good Asthma Care

Symptoms of asthma: Everything you need to know

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.

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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.

What Are Common Side Effects With Asthma Medications

Inhaled asthma medications are usually well-tolerated with few side effects when used as prescribed however, there are a few precautions.

  • Inhaled corticosteroids can cause oral thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth.
  • Rinsing your mouth with water after using the inhaler or using a spacer device might help prevent thrush.
  • Contact your doctor if you notice white patches in your mouth, which could be the beginning of a thrush infection.

Inhaled quick-acting medicines like albuterol can also cause side effects like: shakiness, nervousness, difficulty sleeping or a fast heartbeat, among others.

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British Columbia Specific Information

Asthma is a common chronic condition that causes your airway to narrow and swell. You may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, coughing, and wheezing. Symptoms may range from being mildly annoying to deadly. For this reason it is important to speak with a health care provider if you think you may have asthma.

For more information about asthma, visit our Asthma Health Feature. You may also call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When To See A Gp

Asthma: what it is, its signs and symptoms, and causes | ZAVA Online Doctor

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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Side Effects Of Steroid Tablets

Oral steroids carry a risk if they are taken for more than three months or if they are taken frequently . Side effects can include:

  • easy bruising
  • muscle weakness

With the exception of increased appetite, which is very commonly experienced by people taking oral steroids, most of these unwanted effects are uncommon.

However, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for them regularly, especially side effects that are not immediately obvious, such as high blood pressure, thinning of the bones, diabetes and glaucoma.

You will need regular appointments to check for these.

Want to know more?

How Many People Have Asthma

One in every nine Australians have asthma around 2.7 million of us .

Its more common in males younger than 14 years. However, for people aged 15 years and over, it is more common in females .

The rate of asthma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is almost twice as high as that of non-Aboriginal Australians. This is even more marked in the older adult age group .

Asthma is more common in people living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas .

The prevalence is significantly higher in people living in outer regional and remote areas compared to people living in major cities .

More than one in every two children who are younger than 15 years have a written Asthma Action Plan .

But fewer than one in every five people who are aged over 15 years have a written Asthma Action Plan . This is lowest for people aged 25-44 .


  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018 National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18. ABS Cat no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
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    Complications That Can Put You In Danger

    Asthma complications can threaten your very life. Your breath is something that you simply cannot live without.

    Described by physicians as a chronic inflammatory disease of the lung airway, asthma can become something that touches every aspect of your life.

    This chronic respiratory disorder characterized by frequent wheezing, labored breathing, sense of chest congestion and frequent attacks of coughing and gasping.

    It is a disease of the respiratory system in which the airways swell This is often in response to a trigger such as exposure to cold air, exercise, allergen or emotional stress.

    These symptoms of asthma can range from mild to life threatening and can be controlled by drugs and separate lifestyle changes. But the complications can cause even more trouble.

    How Asthma Is Treated

    What causes asthma?

    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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    Having An Asthma Action Plan

    You and your doctor will also put together an asthma action plan. This is a personalised set of instructions that includes a list of your usual asthma medications and doses, guidance on what to do in different situations , and your doctors contact details.

    Additional Medication For Severe Asthma

    In addition to a reliever and preventer inhaler, severe asthmatics may be prescribed other treatments. You may need to try several options before your healthcare provider finds the right choice for your needs.

    In addition to inhalers, treatment options include:

    • Long-acting bronchodilators these can be added to a preventer inhaler and help keep the airways open for at least 12 hours.
    • Leukotriene receptor antagonists a non-steroid tablet that helps to calm inflamed airways, block the effects of leukotrienes and help with allergies.
    • Long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonists a form of long-acting bronchodilator that can work for 12-24 hours.
    • Long-acting beta-agonists another form of long-acting bronchodilator that is used to relax the muscles in the airways.
    • Slow-release theophylline a non-steroid tablet that helps to relax the smooth muscles in the airways, enabling air to more easily flow through.
    • Short-acting beta 2-agonists a form of quick relief medication that can be used when asthma symptoms occur.
    • Daily steroids these are prescribed in tablet or liquid form and are a type of anti-inflammatory medicine. They work by helping to reduce the sensitivity in the airways.
    • Monoclonal antibodies a newer form of medication for severe uncontrolled asthma. They work by blocking the activity of immune system chemicals that trigger airway inflammation.

    Also Check: Viral Induced Asthma Treatment

    When To See A Doctor Or Go To The Hospital

    If you haven’t yet been diagnosed with asthma, see your doctor if you have frequent wheezing or coughing that lasts for more than a few days.

    If you are diagnosed with asthma, you will then work on keeping your condition under control and monitoring your condition to see if it is getting worse rather than better. When asthma is not well controlled, you can likely expect to experience one or more of the following:

    • You become more aware of your wheezing.
    • You develop a cough that won’t go away.
    • You cough more at night or in cold weather.
    • You cough or wheeze with physical activity.
    • You get less relief from quick-relief medications.
    • You have more trouble falling asleep or getting a good night’s rest.
    • You get easily tired of tasks you can normally complete.
    • Your allergy symptoms worsen.
    • You are less able to identify when an attack is about to begin.
    • You have a downturn in your peak expiratory flow rate .

    If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor to determine whether there have been significant changes in your respiratory health. Spirometry and other tests may be used to evaluate the extent of these changes and what, if any, revisions to your treatment plan need to be made.

    Go to the emergency room if any of the following occur:

    Asthma Causes And Triggers

    What is Asthma? (HealthSketch)

    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

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    Bipoc Communities And Asthma

    The causes driving these disparities are multifactorial.

    Journal of Clinical Asthma and Immunology American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

    “Poverty, exposure to pollution, and limited access to medical care play a big role in racial disparities in asthma,” says Kenneth Mendez, AAFA’s president and CEO.

    “These factors are interrelated and intergenerational, he explains. Discriminatory housing policies, for example, have caused long-lasting residential segregation, in which poverty is concentrated in Black and Hispanic communities, which then perpetuates a cycle of limited access to education, employment, and quality healthcare services, he says. This residential segregation is also responsible for the disproportionate proximity of minority populations to sources of pollution, such as industrial centers, major roadways, oil and gas refineries, distribution hubs, and traffic-related pollution, which can put people at higher risk for asthma and having worse outcomes, Mendez explains.

    How To Tell If Your Asthma Is Severe

    Doctors differentiate severe asthma from other, milder forms of asthma according to the frequency and intensity of a persons symptoms.

    For starters, severe asthma is persistent, which doctors define as asthma that causes symptoms more than twice a week, explains Patricia Takach, MD, an associate professor of clinical medicine in the section of allergy and immunology at the University of Pennsylvanias Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia. For many severe asthma sufferers, symptoms occur daily.

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    Bronchitis Vs Asthma: What Is The Difference

    Bronchitis is a very common respiratory condition and it can be occur in anyone, regardless of sex and age. If you think that you might have bronchitis then you should read on.

    Bronchitis is a major inflammation of the lungs. People who are are at the most risk of exposure are smokers, people with other respiratory illnesses or anyone with weak immunes system. In other words, if your lungs are already weak, you have a higher risk of developing bronchitis.

    Asthma develops whn th lung airways lungs swell in response to an allergic reaction.

    But what is the difference between asthma and bronchitis?

    They seem so similar but they are actually very different. They have symptoms that appear to be the same and yet require different treatment. If you have a breathing problem, you should understand it so you can treat it correctly.

    Since most symptoms f respiratory disorders r more r less similar, you should consult th doctor immediately n case u observe n symptoms. Th wll help n diagnosing th exact cause nd nature f ur symptoms.

    Treatment Of Severe Asthma

    Asthma Symptoms Poster

    There is no single treatment or medication solution. Everyone is affected differently and what works well for one person may have no effect on another. The same medications may be prescribed as someone who has a milder asthma, but at a much higher dose.

    Treatment of severe asthma focuses on trying to control the symptoms. Youll be prescribed medication and treatment to manage the inflammation in your airways and prevent lung damage. Youll also be advised to reduce the risk of coming into contact with asthma triggers as much as possible, as this will reduce your risk of having a severe asthma attack.

    As a starting point, everyone with asthma is prescribed:

    • A reliever inhaler usually blue, this inhaler is used to provide relief when you need it and should be carried with you at all times.
    • A preventer inhaler often brown, contains corticosteroids that help to reduce swelling and inflammation in the airways. This needs to be taken every day, as prescribed by your doctor.

    If youre diagnosed with severe asthma, you should speak to your doctor about a referral to a specialist clinic. While some primary care surgeries have dedicated asthma nurses that can offer specialist support.

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