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 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 , 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.
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.
What Else Should I Know
The best way to manage asthma is to prevent flare-ups. Do that by following your asthma action plan and avoiding triggers, taking any medicines your doctor prescribes as directed, and getting a flu shot each year.
Your doctor also may ask you to keep track of your asthma symptoms in an asthma diary. This can help the doctor track how you feel after taking medicines. Your doctor might also ask you to use a peak flow meter as a way to monitor your asthma.
Caring for asthma takes a bit of work. But if you follow your asthma action plan, take your medicines properly, recognize your symptoms and triggers, and check in with your doctor regularly, you can do anything that people without asthma do.
What Happens To The Body During An Asthma Attack
Asthma attacks are characterized by three distinct features: 1 The tightening of muscles in the air passages, red or watery eyes, The oxygen travels through your bloodstream to all parts of your body, National guAsthma Management Can HelpA single individuals asthma does not necessarily remain in the same category permanently, Bothersome asthma sAsthma Symptoms in ChildrenChildren are not always able to express in words that their asthma symptoms are worsening
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 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 Is An Asthma Attack
An asthma attack is an exacerbation of symptoms, during which a patients inflamed bronchial tubes prevent them from moving air in and out of their lungs. This episode may also be referred to as an asthma flareup. Regardless of what you call it, the symptoms are the same. Asthma attacks sometimes go on for several minutes at a time. If you have a more serious case of asthma or youve been consistently exposed to an asthma trigger, then the attack can continue for hours. At worst, some attacks can endure for days.
See related: How to Help a Person Having an Asthma Attack
You may have had asthma since childhood. Symptoms typically manifest in children five or younger. Sometimes laughing or crying can lead to an asthma attack in children, while other times its playing, excessive running, cold air and other weather shifts, scents such as perfume or smoke, and allergens such as pollen, dust mites or pet dander. Even being sick with a cold can cause asthma attacks.
In other instances, your job could trigger your feelings of breathlessness. This is known as occupational asthma, in which asthma attacks occur from breathing in dust, gases, fumes or other irritants. Allergic asthma can be exacerbated by said allergen, be that pollen or pet dander.
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 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.
What Part Of The Respiratory System Is Affected By Asthma
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects 10s of thousands of people across the world. Although it isnt curable it is controllable. Asthma is the Greek word for pant or to breath hard. The Greeks named it asthma because of the wheezing sound which is diagnostic of the condition.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that arises from allergies or allergic responses in the lungs and is characterized by sudden attacks of labored breathing, chest constriction and coughing. So what part of the respiratory system does asthma affect?
The respiratory system supports the oxygen needs of the body by taking in air, removing the oxygen at the level of the alveoli and delivering the oxygen to the blood, which then transports the life supporting oxygen around the body. This is a continual system.
The air is exchanged constantly not just when you take air in. There are thousands of tiny air sacs that store the air and oxygen for use. The air is exchanged with each pass of the blood through the pulmonary system.
During an asthmatic event the muscles surrounding the air tubules constrict. This constriction doesnt allow the air in the alveoli to be released and the lungs become over inflated. This over inflation forces the sufferer to cough in an attempt to get rid of the trapped air.
How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma
Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, and other lung diseases.
Your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray, blood test or skin test. Your provider may order . This test measures airflow through your lungs.
What Does Asthma Feel Like
is marked by of the bronchial tubes, with extra sticky secretions inside the tubes. People with 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. Itâs harder for air to pass through.
- . Asthma causes red, swollen bronchial tubes in your lungs. This inflammation can damage your . 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:
- , especially at night or in the morning
- , a whistling sound when you
- Shortness of breath
- because of breathing problems
Not every person with 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 .
When to see your doctor
Get medical help right away if you have serious symptoms including:
What Organs Does Asthma Affect
Asthma is a respiratory illness that affects the lungs, trachea and bronchial passages. An asthma attack occurs when the respiratory system, collectively known as the airways, constricts and prevents oxygen from flowing freely into the body, according to Dr. Miles Weinberger, professor of pediatrics at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.
The trachea is a long air tube leading from the neck to the upper chest cavity where it bisects to form the left and right bronchi. Each bronchus forks into several tiny passageways, or bronchioles, that deliver air to small sacs in the lungs known as alveoli. A smooth muscular lining runs throughout the airways and contains a membrane that produces mucus, which normally helps the respiratory system prevent the spread of bacteria in the lungs, says Dr. Weinberger.
During an asthma attack, the muscular lining swells or tightens, causing labored breathing, and the mucus membrane produces excess fluid, filling up the narrow airways, notes the American Lung Association. An asthmatic’s respiratory organs are sensitive to specific stimuli, such as dust, pet dander, smoke or cold weather. Untreated or incorrectly managed asthma can lead to long-term respiratory damage from repeated inflammation. When the respiratory system is permanently scarred, medications lose their effectiveness and the lungs may not be able to distribute air sufficiently.
What Body Systems Are Affected By Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your ability to breathe. Wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing are common asthma symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an asthma attack or episode can affect your respiratory system, immune system and nervous system .
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Is Asthma The Same For Everyone
Everyone with asthma has their own personal set of triggers and symptoms. Using a is the best way to keep a record of your individual treatment plan.
You can have a certain type of asthma too. For example, occupational asthma is caused by triggers in your workplace. Around 4% of people with asthma have a type of asthma called severe asthma, which needs specialist treatment because the usual medicines dont keep symptoms under control.
Medical History And Physical Exam
Your doctor will ask about your risk factors for asthma and your . 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 of asthma
- Look for allergic skin conditions, such as eczema
Will I Always Have Asthma
Asthma is a lifelong condition; most people who have asthma will always have asthma.
But if youve been diagnosed with asthma as a child, your asthma might improve or disappear completely as you get older, particularly if the asthma was mild.
Even if asthma goes away it can come back later in life, perhaps because youve come into contact with new triggers in your job, or youve moved to an area with more air pollution for example. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause can also bring it on again.
But the good news is that even though asthma doesnt go away there are lots of safe and effective available to help you stay symptom-free.
If youve tried taking all the usual treatments in the right way, but youre still having symptoms, your GP can refer you to a specialist to see if you have severe asthma. This kind of asthma only affects around 4% of all people with asthma. An asthma specialist can help you find the right treatments for you, for example monoclonal antibodies.
Physical Symptoms Of Asthma
Asthma symptoms and severity vary substantially from person to person. Most people with asthma do not have symptoms constantly. Bothersome asthma symptoms can mean that asthma is not controlled sufficiently or that an acute asthma episode may be starting. Common asthma symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Awakening in the night from coughing or wheezing
If you do not have asthma, you can help yourself imagine what it feels like to have an asthma episode:
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.
What Does Asthma Do To The Body
You already know that the muscles in your lungs tighten during an asthma episode. The bronchial tubes may become swollen or otherwise irritated. What else does asthma do to the body? Thats a great question.
According to American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, asthma causes a semi-permanent inflammation in the lungs airways. That means your airways are swollen and red. Theyre characterized as being in a hypersensitive state that can be irritated by any small trigger. Some of these triggers, outlined in Asthma Attacks: Triggers and Treatments, include pet dander, smoke, chemicals, dust, cold or warm weather, pollen, stress, and illness.
Unfortunately, its very normal for someone to be scared or fatigued after suffering an asthma attack. Even seconds of this frightening breathlessness can feel like hours, and your body needs time to recover from the shock of what happened.
Thats why you will have to take care of yourself in the days following an asthma attack. Your lungs are in a weakened state, which makes you more susceptible to a second or third attack. This risk is high over several days, so keep your asthma care a high priority.
How Is Asthma Treated
There’s no cure for asthma, but it can be managed to prevent flare-ups. Asthma treatment involves two important components: avoiding triggers and taking medicine.
People with asthma need to avoid the things that might cause flare-ups. Of course, some triggers can’t be completely avoided . But exposure to other triggers, such as pet dander, can be controlled.
Keep your environment clear of potential allergens, like dust or secondhand smoke. Don’t smoke . Pay attention to the weather and stay indoors or limit your exercise to indoor activities when you know weather or air pollution may affect you.
Doctors help people with exercise-induced asthma manage physical activity, not avoid it. Exercise can help people stay healthier overall. Doctors can help people find treatments that allow them to them participate in their in fact, many professional athletes have asthma.
Most asthma are breathed directly into the lungs , but some are pills or liquids. There two types of medicines are:
Some people with asthma only need quick-relief medicine; others need both kinds of medicine to keep their asthma in check.
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.
How The Treatment Goals Are Attained
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for asthma. While treatment can control symptoms safely and effectively for most patients most of the time, it is not a simple matter of the doctor writing a prescription and the patient taking the medication. Successful treatment of asthma is likely to require several steps on the part of physician. These include:
- Confirmation of the diagnosis
- Characterization of the asthma with regard to:
- Identification of triggers
- Identification of the components of airway obstruction
The diagnosis of asthma is suspected when a patient has a history of recurrent or chronic shortness of breath, labored breathing, or cough in the absence of any other obvious reason. The diagnosis is confirmed by obtaining evidence that there is airway obstruction that reverses either spontaneously or as a result of treatment with anti-asthmatic measures. The procedures used to make the diagnosis include a careful history, measurement of pulmonary function , and therapeutic trials of medication.
Triggers of asthma, those identifiable factors that commonly worsen symptoms include:
- Viral respiratory infections ;
- Airborne allergens ;
- Inhaled irritants ;
- Cold air
Patients with an intermittent pattern of asthma require only intervention measures.
What Are The Complications Of Asthma
Poorly-controlled asthma can have a negative effect on your quality of life. Complications may include:
- being less productive at work or while studying
- an inability to exercise and be physically active
- reduced lung function
- poor mental health
Taking your medications exactly as prescribed is important. If you feel that your asthma is affecting your quality of life, contact your doctor for a medicines review.
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 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.
The Impact Of Asthma On Daily Life
Asthma is often under-diagnosed and under-treated, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
People with under-treated asthma can suffer sleep disturbance, tiredness during the day, and poor concentration. Asthma sufferers and their families may miss school and work, with financial impact on the family and wider community. If symptoms are severe, people with asthma may need to receive emergency health care and they may be admitted to hospital for treatment and monitoring. In the most severe cases, asthma can lead to death.
Asthma Symptoms In Children
Children are not always able to express in words that their asthma symptoms are worsening. They may have noticeable coughing and wheezing, but these are not always the first indications of breathing distress. Different children show asthma trouble in different ways.
Some possible indications of the beginning of an asthma episode include:
- Unusual tiredness or restlessness
- Frequent symptoms at night
What Does Control Of Asthma Mean
- The ability to deal with acute exacerbations of asthma so that the need for urgent medical care is prevented
- Prevention of hospitalization for asthma
- Tolerating all normal activities up to and including competitive athletics if otherwise able
- The avoidance of symptoms that interfere with sleep.
- Normal pulmonary physiology .
- These goals should be reached safely and with the least interference with a normal life-style. The risks and bother of the treatment must be carefully weighed against the risk and bother of the asthma. The benefit obtained from the treatment must be worth any inconvenience and potential medication risks imposed by the treatment.
In other words, it is the goal of treatment to determine the simplest, safest therapeutic measures that minimize disability, normalize lung function, avoid the need for acute medical care of asthma, and permit a normal life.
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.
Physical Effects Of Asthma
Having asthma can affect a person in many ways. Physical effects can range from the somewhat annoying all the way to the life-threatening . The frequency and seriousness of asthma symptoms depends on the overall severity of the asthma and how well it is controlled.
Whether your asthma causes mild or severe symptoms, it’s essential to have an asthma management plan in place. The asthma doctors at UI Health can help. We’ll take the time to understand your symptoms and gauge the severity of your asthma. Then we’ll work with you to put together a plan that will address the physical effects asthma is having on your body.
How Can I Stop My Asthma Getting Worse Over Time
The best way to stop your asthma getting worse over time is to stick to a good routine of taking your preventer medicines as prescribed.
And if you notice your symptoms are getting worse, see your GP or asthma nurse as soon as possible so they can review your treatment.
You can also cut your risk of frequent asthma attacks, and your asthma getting worse, by .
Having an asthma review at least once a year, gives you a chance to talk through any symptoms or new triggers. You can check youre on the right medicine and that youre using your inhaler in the right way to get the most benefits.
You can also talk to your GP or asthma nurse about whether you need a higher dose or an add-on treatment to help with symptoms.