Asthma is one of the most common chronic conditions in the world, affecting over 27 million people only in the United States. According to the latest statistics, 1 in 12 children suffers from a form of asthma and requires long-term treatment.
When a person suffers from asthma, he/she will present constricted airways and inflammation, which in turn will lead to breathing difficulties. Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening, requiring emergency treatment. If the condition leads to frequent attacks, it can interfere with daily life and prevent one from engaging in various activities. The doctor should monitor the symptoms regularly and adjust the treatment accordingly.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
It is important to understand that the symptoms can differ from one person to another. Moreover, one can experience these symptoms in association with certain activities or exposures, or, in more severe cases, permanently.
An asthma attack can cause shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. One can also experience tightness or pain in the chest area and feel fatigued. The symptoms of asthma can be made worse by pre-existent conditions, such as respiratory infections. If the attacks are frequent, one can suffer from insomnia and become dependent on the inhaler (which should only be used for quick relief).
Physical effort, cold/dry air and exposure to irritating substances – such as dust, gas or chemical fumes – are just few of the factors that can lead to asthma flare-ups. The same goes for allergies caused by airborne substances, such as pollen, pet dander or mold.
Severe asthma attacks are accompanied by a sudden and rapid aggravation of breathing difficulties and wheezing. One might obtain no improvement upon using the inhaler, requiring emergency treatment to avoid a negative outcome or even death.
What are the causes of asthma?
Despite extensive research, the exact cause behind asthma has yet to be identified. At the moment, healthcare specialists believe that the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
In patients with asthma, the most important thing is to identify the triggers contributing to the attacks. As it was already mentioned above, these often include airborne substances, such as pollen, mold spores, dust mites and pet dander. Additional triggers include cold air, pollution, emotions or stress and food preservatives. Respiratory infections – common cold & flu – and GERD can trigger asthma attacks as well.
When it comes to potential risk factors, these include a family history of asthma, allergies, obesity, smoking (including secondhand exposure), exposure to exhaust fumes, chemicals and other potentially-harmful substances. Knowing both triggers and risk factors, one can manage asthma more effectively and prevent discomforting attacks from ever occurring.
How is asthma treated?
The treatment of asthma must be started early on, so as to prevent the condition from becoming worse and leading to life-threatening attacks. Moreover, an early treatment will be useful in preventing potential complications, such as the long-term damage to the lungs.
In deciding on the treatment plan, the doctor must take into consideration the age of the patient, as well as the symptoms and potential triggers. The condition has to be carefully monitored, as the manifestations might change and different treatment solutions might be necessary to prevent the life-threatening asthma attacks.
The inhaler is recommended only for quick relief, in case of flare-ups, and one should refrain from relying exclusively on it, as it can make the condition worse and the attacks more frequent. The doctor can monitor the asthma manifestations and prevent one from overusing not only the inhaler but also the rest of the medication.
The long-term medication for asthma includes corticosteroids, which have potent anti-inflammatory properties. These are inhaled, have a low risk of side-effects and can be used over an extended period of time. Additional treatments include leukotriene modifiers (relief from asthma symptoms for up to 24 hours), long-acting beta agonists and other bronchodilators.
In case of an asthma attack, quick-relief solutions can be used, including bronchodilators, short-acting beta agonists and corticosteroids (oral or intravenous administration).
Asthma can be effectively kept under control with the help of lifestyle changes. You need to pay more attention to the air quality inside your home, using the air conditioning to reduce the presence of pollen and other airborne substances. You should clean your home frequently, ensuring the necessary humidity and taking steps to prevent mold formation.
It is recommended to lose weight and quit smoking, as both these factors can make asthma worse. You can practice breathing exercises, which might come in handy in case of an attack. In case of severe asthma, which can lead to anxiety and depression, you can go to therapy and discuss about potential coping strategies. Last, but not least, you can give natural remedies a try.
Keeping track of your condition with CareClinic
CareClinic is a health app which can be quite useful for someone who is suffering from asthma. The application allows you to keep track of your manifestations and potential triggers, such as your allergies (often common in those who have asthma).
The health diary is one of the most exciting features CareClinic has to offer, allowing you to record information on each and every asthma attack. You can record when and how the attack occurred, as well as suspected triggers. Based on the information you enter, you will be given a comprehensive health report, which can be shared with your treating physician.
The application also allows you to record your treatment plan, which is a huge advantage. You can set up reminders for medications and doctor appointments, ensuring thus the necessary treatment adherence. CareClinic is a useful tool, which allows you to manage your condition effectively and reduce the risk of flare-ups.
Use the application to keep a tab on your symptoms and educate yourself on which triggers must be avoided. You can also record a separate medication plan for emergency situations, so that others know how to help you in case of a life-threatening asthma attack. With CareClinic, you will finally feel like you are in control and be thankful for having reduced the risk of such attacks.