One thing we humans take for granted the most is our ability to breathe. We do it more than 25,000 times a day and there is hardly any time when we actually give it a thought. But that is not true for people who struggle with lung diseases such as asthma. This serious illness affects millions of people all over the world and can even prove fatal. In medical terms, it is called chronic respiratory disease. Some people refer to asthma as "bronchial asthma."Depending on the severity, asthma disease can lead to various asthma symptoms that can interfere with day-to-day activities. And since there is no cure for asthma, one can only focus on controlling the signs of asthma and making sure one should stay away from the triggers. In order to defend against asthma disease, it is essential to understand what exactly is this disease and what are its asthma symptoms and causes. In this article, we are going to sort all these questions related to asthma. Let us begin by first detailing the disease and its types.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a lung disease in which the bronchial tubes the airways that carry air in and out of your lungs swell and become highly sensitive. They also start producing more mucus that creates breathing difficulties. When these airways become inflamed, they can also lead to shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing sound when you breathe out. Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out, and shortness of breath. For some, asthma can be a minor issue and for others, it can become a serious health issue and even lead to a life-threatening asthma attack. Apart from the severity, there are also various types of asthma depending on the triggers and symptoms. The five most common types are as follows:

  1. Exercise-Induced Bronchospasm (EIB) that gets induced due to exercises.
  2. Allergic Asthma occurs due to the triggers such as pollens, dust, bugs, and foods as well.
  3. Cough-Variant Asthma is associated with recurring cough and lung-related health issues.
  4. Occupational Asthma usually occurs in people who work as painters, bakers, laboratory workers, and other occupations that involve exposure to harmful air irritants.
  5. Nocturnal Or Nighttime Asthma is that type of asthma when the symptoms worsen during the night.

People can have different types of asthma and the medications and diagnosis may vary for each. Since asthma is a chronic issue that cannot be treated, one can only work towards controlling the asthma symptoms and tracking their disease to prevent a major asthma attack.

Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma

The signs of asthma vary from person to person. Some may experience asthma attacks frequently while others have asthma symptoms during certain times. Here are the most common signs and symptoms of asthma you should be aware of:

  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain and tightness in the chest area.

You may or may not have these asthma symptoms and the severity can also differ. It is seen that some patients can go for extended periods without any visible signs and can suddenly experience worsening symptoms which are called asthma attacks. It is very important to recognize these asthma attack symptoms to prevent serious episodes and keep asthma in control. Here are the early warning signs of asthma:

  • Coughing frequently, especially during the night
  • Trouble in sleeping
  • Losing breath
  • Tiredness and fatigue when exercising
  • Wheezing and coughing after a physical workout
  • Irritability
  • Signs of colds and allergies such as runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, etc) these are also known as allergic asthma symptoms

Children also get asthma attacks and their symptoms may differ from the asthma symptoms in adults. Not all children with asthma wheeze. In some cases, the condition may even go unrecognized if the constant cough is associated with recurrent bronchitis. These symptoms can escalate and convert into asthma attack symptoms. Thus, recognize them early and contact a doctor as soon as possible. Asthma attacks can be quite dangerous and need medical treatment right away.

Causes of Asthma and its Potential Triggers

Knowing the causes of any health condition helps in ensuring that one can try and avoid those causes. However, this does not work in the case of asthma. The main reason for this is the fact that health professionals do not know the exact causes of asthma. Thus, instead of the causes of asthma, there are some factors that may lead to this health condition. These factors are:

  • Family History: It is often seen that people who have a family history of asthma have an increased risk of developing the condition. So, if you have a parent or sibling having asthma, you are more likely to get this lung disease too.
  • Previous Episodes of Viral Infections: Those who have a history of recurring viral infections, especially during childhood, are at more risk of asthma.
  • Environmental Factors: Cigarette smoke, mold, noxious fumes from paints, pollution, high humidity and other indoor and outdoor factors can also increase your risk of developing asthma.

Along with these risk factors, it is also necessary that you should be aware of the triggers that can lead to asthma symptoms in adults and children suffering from the condition. Here are some of the possible triggers along with the types of asthma they induce:

  • Health issues: Experiencing respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, viruses or flu may trigger asthma attacks. This type of asthma is known as Cough-Variant Asthma.
  • Exercise and Workouts: A majority of people with asthma experience breathing issues while doing physical exercises. This type of asthma is known as Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB).
  • Allergens: From animal dander and dust mites to fungi and pollens, there are various allergens that can trigger allergic asthma symptoms. This is also known as Allergic Asthma and affects a majority of people.
  • Air Irritants: Some people with asthma may find air irritants such as chemical fumes, smoke and dust to be the triggers for their symptoms. Since such exposures usually happen at the workplace, this type of asthma is known as Occupational Asthma.

A few other asthma triggers can be:

  • Extreme weather changes such as very high humidity or low temperatures
  • Shouting, laughing, and crying
  • Secondhand smoking
  • Outdoor air pollution
  • Negative emotions such as anxiety and depression
  • Certain medications
  • Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Allergic reactions from food products such as eggs, cows milk, fish, wheat, tree nuts, soy, etc.

The Bottom Line

Asthma is a serious health condition that requires proper diagnosis and treatment. For this, one should seek medical help as soon as one notices the signs and symptoms of asthma. In case of an asthma attack, immediate medical attention should be the priority to subside the symptoms as soon as possible. Thanks to the internet, people can also consult doctors online and get professional advice from any renowned pulmonologist irrespective of their location. Doctors will not just prescribe your medications but also find out the triggers and help you in managing the symptoms accordingly.

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