Asthma – Symptoms, Treatment, and Warning Signs
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways. It causes wheezing and breathing difficulties. There are different types, such as childhood, adult-onset, seasonal, and workplace-related asthma.
The main symptoms of asthma in adults include:
- chest tightness
- coughing, especially at night or when laughing
- difficulty breathing
- shortness of breath
- sleep problems, resulting from breathing issues
- wheezing, a whistling sound in the chest when exhaling
These symptoms often get worse when people have a cold, flu, or another respiratory virus. Certain asthma triggers — such as strong odours, dust mites, and smoke — can also exacerbate breathing problems.
Asthma attacks vary in severity, but they may cause:
- very rapid breathing
- anxiety and panic
- pale, clammy skin
- difficulty talking
- worsening symptoms, such as more severe chest tightness, coughing, or wheezing
- symptoms that do not go away after using an inhaler
- low readings on a peak flow meter, which measures lung function
Early warning signs of an oncoming attack may include:
- cold or allergy symptoms, including a headache, stuffy or runny nose, or sore throat
- coughing or wheezing after exercise
- difficulty sleeping
- feeling moody or irritable
- tiredness or weakness during physical activity
Known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, bronchospasm, or exercise-induced asthma, this condition can cause wheezing and breathing difficulties during or after periods of physical activity.Cold, dry air can make symptoms worse.
People with occupational asthma may only have symptoms while working with lung irritants, such as gases, chemicals, or dust.
Allergies & Allergens include:
Common allergens may account for at least 30 percent of adult asthma cases.
- cockroach waste
- dust mites
- mold spores
- pet dander
Infections Viral or bacterial infections, such as colds or sinusitis, can trigger asthma attacks. This can be especially problematic in children and older adults.Also, people with asthma have a greater risk of flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and bacterial infections.
There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed. There are two steps to controlling asthma: taking medicines and avoiding or limiting asthma triggers.
To prevent asthma symptoms:
- Avoid or limit contact with your asthma triggers and allergens. Have Healthier Home Checklist to identify asthma triggers and allergens in your home and make your indoor environment healthier.
- Get vaccinated. Respiratory infections like colds and the flu can worsen asthma. Get a flu vaccine every year. Keep your lungs healthy by getting other vaccinations as recommended.
- Create an Asthma Action Plan with your doctor. Follow it when you have symptoms. If you are having trouble staying in the Green/Go Zone, your asthma may not be well-controlled.
- Take your asthma medicines as directed. If your doctor prescribed a medicine to control your asthma, take it as directed. This may be as needed or every day. Follow your Asthma Action Plan.
- Take care of your general health. It can be hard to take care of your health but doing so can help you better manage asthma. Try to get plenty of sleep and exercise. Eat healthy foods as much as possible, stay hydrated, and find ways to manage stress.
To treat sudden asthma symptoms:
- Take quick-relief medicines at the first sign of symptoms. Always have your quick-relief medicines with you. You never know when or where symptoms will happen. Take quick-relief medicines as soon as you start feeling symptoms.
- Take medicines as directed on your Asthma Action Plan. If your symptoms are not improving or getting worse quickly, seek medical attention right away.
DR. B. NITHILAVALLI MBBS., DTCD
Kumaran Medical Center