Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs; it narrows the airway and makes breathing difficult. During an asthma attack, the airways become swollen, and the muscles around them tighten, making it very difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs; it may even become difficult to talk or do any physical activity.
Asthma can be classified into two categories depending on how severe and frequent it is. If it comes and goes less than twice a week and if a patient feels normal between each attack, it is classified as intermittent asthma. However, if the attack occurs too frequently day and night and affects the patient’s daily activities, then it is said to be persistent asthma.
It is often difficult to find a single direct cause for asthma, so a lot of factors have been linked to the increased risk of developing it; some of those factors include:
- Tobacco smoking.
- Environmental factors such as air pollution.
- Genetic factors.
- Hormonal factors, especially hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle and menopause.
- Strong emotional factors like fear, stress, depression or anxiety.
- Respiratory infections include influenza (flu), common cold, COVID-19 virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and sinus infections.
- Certain medications, such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Symptoms of Asthma
The type of asthma you have will determine the symptoms you will get; however, the most common symptom of asthma is a squealing sound made when breathing, and the other symptoms to look out for include:
- Chest pain.
- Coughing, especially at night, during exercise or when laughing.
- Frequent infections.
- Shortness of breath.
- Anxiousness or panic.
- Tightness in the chest.
- Rapid breathing.
- Difficulty talking.
- Trouble sleeping.
There are quick-relief medications that help alleviate asthma symptoms and also long-term medications to control and reduce the number of attacks a person experiences. These medications include:
- Antibiotics for bronchitis and bacterial pneumonia.
- Short and long-term bronchodilators to relax the muscles around the airways
- A combination of bronchodilators and corticosteroids.
- Anti-inflammatory medications, such as oral steroids for an acute attack or inhaled corticosteroids, for long-term maintenance.