What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects your breathing. It causes the airways that lead to the lungs to swell and tighten (bronchospasm) leading to asthma attacks. This makes it hard to breathe, and you may wheeze( whistling sound from breath) or cough.
Are all asthmatics alike?
Asthma affects people in different ways. Some people only have asthma attacks during allergy season, or when they breathe in cold air, or when they exercise. Others have many bad attacks that send them to the doctor often. For some people seasonal allergies may trigger cough while for some, emotional factors , stress, pollution and dust may cause an attack.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of asthma can be mild or severe, intermittent or persistent . How often you have symptoms can also change. You may or may not have a childhood history of wheezing and bronchitis. When you have asthma, you may:
- Wheeze, making a loud or soft whistling noise when you breathe in and out.
- Cough a lot, worse at night.
- Feel tightness in your chest.
- Feel short of breath.
- Have trouble sleeping because of coughing or having a hard time breathing.
- Get tired quickly during exercise.
I think I have asthma , how can I confirm ?
Visit a pulmonologist . Your doctor may advice some tests based on your history.
A spirometry / Lung function test is diagnostic for most cases and will be required initially and for following your treatment. Other relevant investigations may be performed on case to case basis.
How can I prevent asthma attacks?
Certain things can make asthma symptoms worse. These are called triggers. When you are around a trigger, an asthma attack is more likely.
Common triggers include:
- Cigarette smoke or air pollution.
- Things you are allergic to, such as: Pollen, mold, or dust mites, Pet hair.
- Illnesses, like colds, flu, or pneumonia.
- Dry, cold air.
How is asthma treated?
There are two parts to treating asthma, The goals are to:
· Control asthma over the long term- Controller medicine you may need to taken every day for long time . It helps to reduce the swelling of the airways and prevent asthma attacks.
· Treat asthma attacks when they occur- Quick-relief medicine (reliever) during an attack helps you during attacks. .
My Doctor says I should use an Inhaler/Puff.Can I avoid it? Will I get used to it for lifetime?
Inhaled form of treatment is the best, quickest acting, and most effective treatment for asthma. You will not become dependent on this form if you receive adequate treatment along with trigger control.
This form of treatment is mostly free of side effects and MUST be used when advised , without any hesitation.