Asthma is a common respiratory ailment. Asthma can be obvious, with symptoms that include wheezing, coughing uncontrollably, fainting and turning blue, or it can be subtle, with only a nagging dry cough and shortness of breath as symptoms. No matter how severe it is, asthma occurs when the bronchial tubes in your lungs narrow, causing you to experience difficulty breathing. The severity of each asthma attack may vary considerably, depending on the triggers involved and the medical response provided.
Most asthmatics have one or more the following risk factors in common: a family member who has asthma, exposure to smoke or second-hand smoke, severe allergies or exposure to chemicals or pesticides. Any or all of these factors may increase your chances of developing asthma.
Many asthmatics discover that certain allergens trigger attacks. Common allergens are pet dander, dust mites, mold, mildew, pollen, eggs, wheat, corn, milk and chocolate. If you suspect you have asthma, you should ask your doctor for an allergy test so you can identify potential asthma triggers. If the attacks are mild, simply avoiding the things that trigger attacks, or getting treatment to manage the allergies, may be all that’s needed.
If you are diagnosed with asthma, your doctor may prescribe daily medication to reduce or eliminate your asthma attacks. You will also be prescribed a rescue inhaler to use when you have an asthma attack. Inhalers soothe the bronchial tubes and open them, eliminating the symptoms of an asthma attack. Inhalers don’t solve the problem of an underlying trigger, so you’ll still need to deal with any allergens or other things that cause asthma attacks.
You may be advised to get rid of certain pets, change your flooring material, quit smoking, clean your house often with non-irritating cleansers, change your bedding often, install an air filter and keep your windows closed during pollen season. You will most likely find that environmental changes will improve your asthma rather quickly.
It’s important to learn what causes asthma so you can eliminate as many triggers as possible. Asthma is caused by environmental and genetic factors, which can influence how severe asthma is and how well it responds to medication. Some environmental and genetic factors have been confirmed by further research, while others have not. Underlying both environmental and genetic factors is the role of the upper airway in recognizing the perceived dangers and protecting the more vulnerable lungs by shutting down the airway.