About 300 million people in the world have asthma! We often confuse the symptoms with a simple cough, or we think our heavy breath is due to the lack of exercise. But what are the chances of actually having asthma? How do we realise it and what can we do to deal with it?
Asthma: what is it and what cause it?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory system. Βronchi – the main airways in our lungs – carry the air into them. When someone has asthma and inhales an irritant factor, then bronchi over-react, contract, cause inflammation and swelling, while secretions are produced. The result is that the bronchial tubes narrow and the air has difficulty passing. It may sound terrifying, but there are now solutions to treat asthma so that one can live naturally.
Asthma may be genetically predisposed – related to heredity, or be a reaction to external environmental factors. Some of the most common environmental causes of asthma are dust, dampness, cigarette smoke, pollen, colors and fragrances, animal hair, some medicines and others.
There is also a correlation of asthma with viral infections, as well as with atopy and eczema. Thus, an infection or a virus is very likely to trigger an asthma attack.
Asthma: What are the symptoms?
The term asthma was used in Homer to describe breathing or panting! To understand if you have asthma rather than a simple cough, you should notice some symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath and feeling of weight in the chest
- Cough or breath-like whistling (wheezing)
- Intense and persistent cough especially in the evening, early in the morning or after exercise
- Sweating and heavy breathing when climbing stairs or walking fast.
- Feeling that your chest “boils”.
If you notice any of the above, you might want to contact your pulmonologist to do the special tests needed to diagnose it.
Attention should be given to diagnosis in young children but also in the elderly. About children, parents often confuse the symptoms with those of a cold, while the elderly may not pay attention because they consider it as a normal symptom of their age.
Asthma and treatment
Asthma is not a disease that can be fully cured, but symptoms and frequency of crises can be greatly reduced. Some people may require special treatment, while others may be relieved only by removing the irritant or getting away from it. The only sure thing is that each patient should have a special treatment, adapted to his or her situation, as some may experience symptoms few times in their lives, while others daily.
Depending on the severity of the condition, your doctor will also prescribe the treatment. If symptoms occur rarely, the doctor usually administers bronchodilators for immediate relief. If asthma attacks are common, you may also recommend prescription drugs to keep your condition under control.
There are now several alternative treatments that deal with asthma symptoms such as homeopathy, herbal therapy, acupuncture, and so on.
Several herbs or natural substances such as boswellia, quercetin, grape extract, licorice etc. are used in herbal therapy. The herbs are given in the form of a tincture, capsule or beverage.
In acupuncture very fine needles are placed at specific points in the body in order to relieve the symptoms and reduce the medications that patient may take for years. Sessions last 20-30 ‘, during which the person feels comfortable.
In addition, there are many relaxation and breathing techniques where the patient learns how to deal with an asthma attack and how to control his anxiety and fears.
What to watch οut for?
Avoid what affects you. There are many substances that can cause an asthma attack and differ from person to person. Observe what is bothering you and avoid it. That may be a fragrance, blooming trees, smoke from frying etc. Find what is bothering you, keep a calendar, and take these substances out of your life or make sure you limit contact with them.
Pets. If you consider taking a pet at home, then don’t. Animal hair usually carries various allergens and is often one of the most common factors that can trigger asthma. If you already have a pet, be sure to spend most of his time in your garden or terrace or at least forbid entrance in your bedroom.
Strong smells. Avoid as much as you can considering detergents, dyes, colognes and use an extractor when cooking.
Smoking. If you are already a smoker, you can easily understand why asthma and smoking do not go together. Also, avoid smoking areas, as passive smoking can often be worse.
Medicines. There are some medications that can aggravate asthma, such as some collyrium, aspirin, antihypertensives with b-blockers. Consult your doctor about what to avoid and observe how your body reacts to various medications.
Must and dust. Two common allergenic factors that is wise to avoid. Ventilate the house frequently and remove objects that may accumulate dust. Choose synthetic hypoallergenic fabrics on your covers, pillows and pyjamas. Avoid wall-to-wall carpets, because they accumulate dust.
Emotional charge. Strong emotional reactions appear to cause almost half of the asthmatic crisis. Strenuous laughter, crying and yelling can lead to cough and asthma attacks.
Boost your immune system. Viruses very often trigger asthma, so be sure to stimulate your body by keeping away viruses and bacteria.
Asthma and exercise
Asthma in exercise is very common and occurs in 40-90% of patients. However, this is no excuse to leave such an important and beneficial activity aside. Imagine that in 2004 Olympic Games, ninety Olympic champions were asthmatics!
What you need is warm-up before exercise so that your breathing rates will not increase sharply. In addition avoid outdoor activities in the days of intense air pollution or areas with many blooming trees.
If your exercise causes severe symptoms then take your medication before you start.
Boost yourself with patience and persistence, seek expert help and deal asthma effectively! Nowadays science and technology have come so far that they can help us in all our efforts!
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