What Do The Two Types Have In Common
Exact causes of asthma can be difficult to pinpoint. Allergies and triggers in the environment can cause asthma symptoms and an asthma flare-up, and genetics can also play a role. But the exact reasons why people develop asthma remain unclear.
Childhood asthma and adult-onset asthma share many of the same triggers. For all people with asthma, exposure to one of the following triggers may cause an asthma attack, though different people have different triggers:
A Typical Treatment Plan
A common treatment plan for a typical person with moderate asthma is:
- A preventer inhaler , taken each morning and at bedtime. This usually prevents symptoms throughout the day and night.
- A reliever inhaler may be needed now and then if breakthrough symptoms occur. For example, if symptoms flare up when you have a cough or cold.
- If exercise or sport causes symptoms then a dose of a reliever inhaler just before the exercise usually prevents symptoms.
- The dose of the preventer inhaler may need to be increased for a while if you have a cough or cold, or during the hay fever season.
- Some people may need to add in an LTRA and/or a long-acting bronchodilator if symptoms are not controlled with the above.
At first, adjusting doses of inhalers is usually done on the advice of a doctor or nurse. In time, you may agree an asthma action plan with your doctor or nurse.
Video: Phlegm And Asthma
Phlegm and asthma
0:07 Gross as it looksphlegm and mucus protect your body from infection.
0:11 A little bit of phlegm is totally normal but if your phlegm
0:18 changes in colour thickness or amount it could be a sign that you’re ill and your
0:20 asthma may be affected
0:23 if you find you’ve been coughing up more phlegm than
0:28 usual this could be a sign that your airways are inflamed this can cause
0:34 asthma symptoms like coughing wheezing shortness of breath or a tight chest
0:38 You should take your daily preventer inhaler as prescribed and it should help stop
0:42 these symptoms because it reduces the inflammation in your airways over time
0:47 if you’re doing this and still getting a lot of mucus on your chest you should
0:51 book an appointment with your doctor or ask the nurse
1:00 if you have yellow or green phlegm this might be a sign of an infection like a cold flu or a chest
1:04 infection these can often make asthma symptoms worse so it’s really important
1:09 to keep taking your preventer inhaler every day
1:15 if your phlegm is streaked with blood this is usually down to the pressure put on the blood vessels if
1:19 you’re coughing a lot the best thing you can do in this case is to see your
1:24 doctor to make sure it’s nothing to worry about if you have brown or black
1:28 tinged phlegm it usually occurs in smokers or if you have COPD chronic
1:34 obstructive lung disease as well as asthma when you stop smoking even just
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Molecular Genetics Of Asthma
Over a hundred different genes have been associated with asthma and the list is still growing. Asthma susceptibility genes fall mainly into three categories relating to 1) functioning of the immune system, 2) mucosal biology and function, and 3) lung function and disease expression . However, just because a gene has been associated with asthma in a single study does not necessarily establish a connection between that gene and the disease. A major problem in many genetic studies of asthma is the lack of replication of results from previous studies. Notably, only a subset of identified genes has been found to be associated with asthma in more than one study and many regard replication as one of the most important features of a gene’s candidacy . However, some genes may be important only in a subset of asthmatics, for example, in childhood-onset asthma, atopic asthma, house dust mite sensitive asthma, or occupational asthma, and therefore replication across these different populations cannot always be expected. Moreover, some genes are expressed only in certain environmental contexts, for instance, in children growing up with a cat or in those exposed to passive smoking in the first years of life . The importance of gene-environment interaction in asthma causation should not be underestimated every gene’s role should be viewed within the context of a permissive environment.
Are There Any Special Considerations For Adults Who Develop Asthma
People with multiple medical conditions need to be aware of how their illnesses and the medications they use may affect one another.
If you take more than one medication, talk with your physician about ways to simplify your medication program. Explore the possibility of combining medications or using alternate ones that will have the same desired effect. Be sure to discuss potential drug interactions with anything you take including vitamins or herbal supplements.
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What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Adult Onset Asthma
Regardless of age, asthma symptoms can include:
Dry cough, especially at night or in response to specific triggers
Tightness or pressure in the chest
Wheezing a whistling sound when exhaling
Shortness of breath after exercise or physical exertion
Colds that go to the chest or hang on for 10 days or more
What Triggers Asthma Attacks
When you experience an asthma attack, your airways narrow and it gets more difficult to breathe. An asthma attack can come on slowly and gradually, for example, if your usual symptoms arent so well controlled or if youve not been using your preventer inhaler as regularly as you should be. If youve got an upper airway infection then this can also trigger an asthma attack.
Other factors that can trigger asthma attacks include a sudden change in the temperature and cold weather, environmental factors, allergens and even stress or certain foods and drinks.
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What Are The Most Common Triggers Of Asthma Attacks
Common asthma attack triggers include:
- Coming into contact with allergens, such as pollen, animal fur, mould or dust
- Eating certain foods
- Environmental factors, such as pollution, poor air quality or cold air
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
- Taking medication such as beta blockers
- Stress or extreme emotion
How Is Asthma In Children Diagnosed
It can be hard to diagnose asthma in children, especially if they are young. Asthma has similar symptoms as other childhood conditions. And some children may not have asthma symptoms very often, so it may seem like they are having respiratory infections instead.
Your child’s health care provider may use many tools to diagnose asthma:
- Physical exam
- Chest x-ray
- Lung function tests, including spirometry, to test how well the lungs work. Younger children are usually not able to do these tests.
- Allergy skin or blood tests, if you have a history of allergies. These tests check which allergens cause a reaction from your immune system.
If you have a young child who cannot do lung function tests, the provider may suggest doing a trial of asthma medicines. The trial involves giving your child the medicines for several weeks to see whether the symptoms get better.
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What Is An Asthma Action Plan
An asthma action plan is a plan agreed by you with your doctor or nurse. The plan enables you to make adjustments to the dose of your inhalers, depending on your symptoms and/or peak flow readings. The plan is tailored to individual circumstances. The plan is written down, usually on a standard form, so you can refer to it at any time. Research studies suggest that people who complete personal asthma action plans find it easier to manage their asthma symptoms and that their plan helps them to go about their lives as normal. Asthma UK provides asthma action plans which you can download from www.asthma.org.uk/advice-personal-action-plan.
Create An Asthma Action Plan
Both adults and children need to create an asthma action plan to outline what type of medicine they should take and when. It will also provide details for what to do when a persons asthma is dangerously out of control. These instructions will help you, your child, friends and relatives know when its time to change treatments or seek emergency care.
To make this plan, discuss your treatment options with your doctor. Plan what you should do in the event of an asthma flare-up. Define at what point you need to increase treatment measures to prevent or reduce an attack.
List what triggers can be avoided and the best ways to avoid them. Share this plan with friends, relatives, and any caregivers your children may have. Together, you will be able to successfully treat your or your childs asthma and avoid future complications.
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Avoid Allergens And Illness
Exposure to allergens can cause the body to produce more mucus than normal. Allergens can include animal dander, pollen, dust mites, fragrance, certain foods, and much more. If you have allergies, avoiding these things can help reduce excess mucus production. Additionally, getting sick with a cold can cause mucus to build-up in your throat and sinus cavities. As the common cold season is approaching, wash your hands frequently, support your immune system, get enough sleep, and keep your distance from others.2
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. Itâs 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:
- Coughing, especially at night or in the morning
- Wheezing, a whistling sound when you breathe
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping because of breathing problems
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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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.
Breathing: Normal Airways Vs Asthma Airways
Normal: In someone with optimal lung function, air is inhaled through the nose and mouth, passing through the trachea before moving into the bronchi . The bronchi branch into smaller tubes, ending in many small sacs called alveoli. Its in the alveoli that oxygen is passed to the blood and carbon dioxide is removed.
Asthma: In someone with asthma, the airways are inflamed, and when triggered, can constrict even more, obstructing airflow to the lungs.
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Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack
Symptoms of an asthma attack include:
- Difficulty breathing
- A feeling of pressure or tightness in your chest
- Difficulty talking
- Getting no relief from using your normal blue reliever inhaler
- Going pale in colour, sometimes with blue lips or fingernails.
Asthma attack symptoms dont always occur suddenly. Sometimes they can come on slowly and steadily, over a number of hours or days. Thats one reason why its important to be aware of what the symptoms are, as it could help you prevent a full-blown asthma attack occurring.
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Future Of Asthma Genetics
Molecular genetic studies of asthma have contributed considerably to the understanding of the pathogenesis and natural history of the disease. Nevertheless, the entire endeavour has translated only sparsely, if at all, into new treatments or modifiable options for asthma. It is now evident that asthma is regulated by many genes, each contributing only marginally to disease risk . Notably, most known asthma susceptibility genes may increase the risk of disease by about a factor of only 1.2 or even less. GWA and deep sequencing studies held the promise of being the design to end all designs, but these studies also confirmed our worst expectations: that asthma genetically, as well as phenotypically, is a very heterogeneous disorder.
How Is Asthma Classified
Doctors rank how bad asthma is by its symptoms:
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.
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Tablets To Open Up The Airways
Most people do not need tablets, as inhalers usually work well. However, in some cases a tablet is prescribed in addition to inhalers if symptoms are not fully eased by inhalers alone. Various tablets may be used which aim to open up the airways. Some young children use liquid medication instead of inhalers.
Personalised Medicine And Pharmacogenetics
Personalised medicine is becoming increasingly important in the post-genomic era. The idea behind personalised medicine is to predict, based mostly on genetic information, which patients will experience the best response to treatment. As this field advances, it will be possible to individualise pharmacotherapy based on genetic polymorphisms so that certain drugs are administered only to those patients who are most likely to respond, while harmful effects are avoided in patients who are most likely to experience toxicity and adverse reactions . Candidate genes for such studies are those encoding receptor proteins and enzymes involved in drug transportation, processing, degradation and excretion. The continuing elucidation of the biological pathways underlying asthma and allergy will help identify new possible targets for intervention. For example, in a randomised study of an experimental drug blocking the IL-4/IL-13 pathway, certain amino acid variations in the IL4 receptor seemed to predict which patients would have the best therapeutic treatment response in terms of increased lung function .
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Allergies Can Cause Asthma
Allergies with asthma is a common problem. Eighty percent of people with asthma have allergies to things in the air, like tree, grass, and weed pollens mold animal dander dust mites and cockroach droppings. In one study, children with high levels of cockroach droppings in their homes were four times more likely to have childhood asthma than children with low levels. An allergy to dust mites is another common asthma trigger.
If you have asthma thatâs hard to control, see an allergist to find out if you have allergies. Treating your allergies with medication and avoiding your triggers can help lower the odds of a severe asthma attack.
What Causes Adults To Develop Asthma
At least 30% of adult asthma cases are triggered by allergies. People who are allergic to cats may have an increased risk for developing adult onset asthma. Exposure to allergens or irritants such as cigarette smoke, chemicals, mold, dust, or other substances commonly found in the persons environment might trigger the first asthma symptoms in an adult.
Prolonged exposure to certain workplace materials may set off asthma symptoms in adults.
Hormonal fluctuations in women may play a role in adult onset asthma. Some women first develop asthma symptoms during or after a pregnancy. Women going through menopause can develop asthma symptoms for the first time.
Different illnesses, viruses, or infections can be a factor in adult onset asthma. A bad cold or a bout with the flu is often a factor in adult onset asthma.
Smoking does not cause adult onset asthma however, if you smoke or if you are exposed to cigarette smoke , it may provoke asthma symptoms.
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How Asthma Develops
Asthma symptoms may flare up from time to time. There is often no obvious reason why symptoms flare up. However, some people find that symptoms are triggered, or made worse, in certain situations. It may be possible to avoid certain triggers, which may help to reduce symptoms. Things that may trigger asthma symptoms include the following:
Some people only develop symptoms when exposed to a certain trigger – for example, exercise-induced asthma. As mentioned above, exercise can make symptoms worse for many people with asthma. However, some people only develop symptoms when they exercise the rest of the time they are fine. Another example is that some people only develop symptoms when exposed to specific chemicals.