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Where Does Asthma Affect Your Body

The Role Of Treatments

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

Itâs important to know why medications for high blood pressure and asthma donât always work together. If you know what you and your doctor should avoid, it can help you feel better.

Some drugs used to lower high blood pressure can make asthma symptoms flare up.

Beta blockers lower your blood pressure because they cause your heart to beat slower and with less force. They also open your arteries and veins to help your blood flow.

Beta blockers can make asthma worse. If not used properly, they can cause problems in your airways and make your asthma treatments less effective.

Medicines this can happen with include:

What Happens During An Asthma Attack

Reviewed byDr Hayley Willacy

Asthma is a common condition that affects the smaller airways . From time to time the airways narrow in people who have asthma. The typical symptoms are wheeze, cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The extent of the narrowing, and how long each episode lasts, can vary greatly.

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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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.

Whats An Asthma Attack

FAQs About Allergic Asthma: Whos at Risk and How It Takes ...

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.

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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 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.

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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 Does Asthma Affect The Specific Groups Of People

How Asthma Affects Your Lungs and Your Life

1. Children

Children may not be able to tell that their breathing is worsening, and the coughing or wheezing are not always the first signs of distress. How does asthma affect the body of a child? Here are some indications of an asthmatic attack in children:

  • Fast breathing
  • Slouching

2. Elderly

Asthma can cause severe complications in the elderly. While a younger adult may only experience wheezing and coughing, symptoms may become severe as one gets older. Older people may have severe breathlessness and weakened body immunity. They may become more susceptible to infection, as well as anxiety or depression. With chronic asthma attacks, conditions such as bronchitis and other respiratory and cardiac problems may develop.

3. Pregnant Women

How does asthma affect the body of a mom-to-be? Pregnant women have an increased risk of complications when they have asthma attacks. These include vaginal hemorrhage, premature labor, preeclampsia, eclampsia, and stillbirth. Asthma attacks during pregnancy increase the production of acid in the blood, which may reduce oxygen supply both to the mother and the baby.

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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

What Can Be Done About It

Asthma can be controlled. Moreover, it can be controlled by those who have asthma. The role of the physician is to provide the means for the patient to control asthma and to teach the patient to use provided measures .

Since asthma varies greatly in pattern of symptoms and severity, the treatment plan needs to be individualized. This should be done in a systematic manner. Goals of therapy must be realistically attainable and explicitly defined for you. The plan for attaining the treatment goals must be understood. Once the measures needed for control of asthma are identified, they can be placed in the hands of the patient with appropriate instructions for usage. Parental supervision is needed for young children, but progressive responsibility for self-management is given with advancing maturity.

Treatment may consist of medication, environmental changes, and life-style changes. The more the patient understands the disease and its treatment, the better the outcome is likely to be. The patient should therefore be an active partner in making decisions about treatment. Be wary, however, of superstitions and misinformation regarding asthma. More than almost any other medical problem, asthma is associated with a wide diversity of medical and nonmedical opinion. Both the physician and the patient therefore need to exercise judgment. Four common sense measures to remember are:

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Side Effects Of Relievers And Preventers

Relievers are a safe and effective medicine, and have few side effects as long as they are not used too much. The main side effects include a mild shaking of the hands , headaches and muscle cramps. These usually only happen with high doses of reliever inhaler and usually only last for a few minutes.

Preventers are very safe at usual doses, although they can cause a range of side effects at high doses, especially with long-term use.

The main side effect of preventer inhalers is a fungal infection of the mouth or throat . You may also develop a hoarse voice and sore throat.

Using a spacer can help prevent these side effects, as can rinsing your mouth or cleaning your teeth after using your preventer inhaler.

Your doctor or nurse will discuss with you the need to balance control of your asthma with the risk of side effects, and how to keep side effects to a minimum.

What Else Should I Know

How Cold Weather Can Increase Your Asthma Symptoms

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.

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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.

Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases

The Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases contributes to WHOs work to prevent and control chronic respiratory diseases. GARD is a voluntary alliance of national and international organizations and agencies from many countries committed to the vision of a world where all people breathe freely.

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How Is Asthma Treated

Theres no cure for asthma, but it can be managed to prevent flare-ups. Asthma treatment involves two important components: avoiding triggers and taking medicine.

Avoiding Triggers

People with asthma need to avoid the things that might cause flare-ups. Of course, some triggers cant 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. Dont 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.

Taking Medicine

Most asthma are breathed directly into the lungs , but some are pills or liquids. There two types of medicines are:

  • Quick-relief medicines,which act fast. They can be used as needed during a flare-up. Quick-relief medicines act fast, but their effect doesnt last long. These kinds of medicines are also called fast-acting or rescue medicines.
  • Some people with asthma only need quick-relief medicine others need both kinds of medicine to keep their asthma in check.

    Diagnosing Asthma In Children Younger Than 6

    How Asthma Affects the Respiratory System

    It can be hard to tell whether a child under age 6 has asthma or another respiratory condition, because young children often cannot perform a pulmonary function test such as spirometry. After checking a childs history and symptoms, the doctor may try asthma medicines for a few months to see how well a child responds. About 40% of children who wheeze when they get colds or respiratory infections are eventually diagnosed with asthma.

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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 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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    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.

    Always Call An Ambulance In An Asthma Emergency

    Stress and Illness

    In an emergency, always call triple zero and ask for an ambulance. Tell the operator that someone is having an asthma attack. The signs of an asthma emergency include when the person:

    • Finds it very difficult to breathe.
    • Is unable to speak comfortably or if their lips are turning blue.
    • Has symptoms that get worse very quickly.
    • Is getting little or no relief from their reliever inhaler.

    While waiting for the ambulance, continue to follow the 4 steps of asthma first aid and give 4 puffs of reliever medication every 4 minutes.

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    How The Conditions Intersect

    Blood pressure is a major part of asthma.

    You can have high blood pressure with asthma. But it usually isnât because of a severe asthma attack. When you have less intense episodes, your blood pressure might go up because your lungs wonât pull in enough air. Your heart will pump faster to get enough oxygen to the rest of your body, so your blood pressure will go up, as a result.

    How Does Asthma Affect The Body

    Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that causes your airways in the lungs to become narrow, resulting in inflammation and difficulty breathing. It also causes symptoms like wheezing, coughing, breathlessness, and chest tightness. Sometimes, it can even be life-threatening. There is no cure for asthma you can only try to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks and alleviate the symptoms.

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