Asthma is a chronic lung disease. It causes wheezing and difficulty breathing. There are various forms of asthma, including childhood, adult-onset, seasonal, and work-related asthma. Asthma disease involves swelling and inflammation of the interior walls of the airways, known as the bronchial tubes. During an asthma episode, the airways enlarge, the muscles around them contract, and airflow into and out of the lungs becomes difficult. In 2019, approximately 7.8% of people in the United States had asthma. There are many different varieties of this illness, and a variety of things can cause it or precipitate an acute attack. This article discusses the various forms of asthma, their origins and triggers, as well as how a doctor identifies them.
Asthma is a chronic illness that affects the airways. It causes inflammation and constriction of the lungs, limiting air supply.
Asthmatic people may have the following symptoms:
- Tightness in the chest, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and increased mucus production.
- When the symptoms of asthma worsen, an asthma attack occurs. Attacks can occur unexpectedly and range in severity from minor to life-threatening.
- Swelling in the airways might prevent oxygen from reaching the lungs in some circumstances. This prevents oxygen from entering the bloodstream or reaching important organs. As a result, patients experiencing severe symptoms require immediate medical assistance.
A doctor can prescribe appropriate medicines and educate patients on how to best manage their asthma symptoms.
Asthma disease types
Asthma can start in many different ways and for many different reasons, but the triggers are often the same.
- allergens, including dander and pollen.
- irritants, such as chemicals and smoke
- a few more health problems
- a few prescriptions drug.
- a lot of feelings
In the sections that follow, we’ll talk about some common kinds of asthma:
Asthma in kids
Most kids who have a long-term illness have asthma disease. It can happen at any age, but children are more likely to get it than adults. In 2019, asthma was most likely to happen to kids between the ages of 12 and 14. With an average of 9.1%, children ages 5 to 14 had the second highest prevalence.
In the same year, 8% of people aged 18 or older got asthma.
The American Lung Association (ALA) lists the following as common causes of asthma disease in children:
- colds and infections of the lungs
- cigarette smoke, including tobacco smoke from other people.
- being out in the cold
- sudden changes in temperature
If a child starts to have asthma, they need to see a doctor right away because it can be life-threatening. A doctor can help you figure out some of the best ways to deal with the problem. In some cases, a child’s asthma may get better as he or she gets older. Many people, though, have to deal with it for the rest of their lives.
Adult-onset asthma disease
Asthma can start at any age, even when a person is an adult.
Some of the things that can make it more likely for an adult to get asthma are:
- respiratory illness
- allergies and coming in contact with allergens.
- things like hormones
Occupational asthma happens when an allergen or irritant in the workplace makes a person sick. About 1 out of every 6 cases of asthma that start in adults start at work. Also, about 21% of adults who work and have asthma have noticed that their symptoms get worse at work. Asthma disease that is hard to control and very bad.
According to a 2014 study, about 5–10% of people with asthma have very bad asthma.
Some people with asthma have severe symptoms that have nothing to do with their asthma. For example, they might not yet know how to use an inhaler correctly. Others have severe asthma that doesn’t go away. In these cases, asthma doesn’t get better no matter how much medicine is taken or how well an inhaler is used. People with asthma may have this type of disease 3.6% of the time.
Eosinophilic asthma is another kind of asthma that may not respond to the usual medicines in severe cases. Some people with eosinophilic asthma can get by with regular asthma medicines, but others might do better with specific biologic therapies. One type of biologic medication lowers the number of eosinophils, which are a type of blood cell involved in an allergic reaction that can cause asthma.
This kind of asthma is caused by allergens that are only present in the air at certain times of the year. For example, the symptoms of seasonal asthma can be brought on by cold air in the winter or pollen in the spring or summer. People who have seasonal asthma still have it the rest of the year, but most of the time they don’t have any symptoms.
Causes of asthma disease
Experts in health don’t know for sure what causes asthma disease, but both genes and the environment seem to play a big role. In the sections that follow, we’ll look at some more causes and triggers:
A study from 2020 suggests that smoking during pregnancy makes it more likely that the baby will have asthma as an adult. Some people also find that their asthma gets worse while they are pregnant.
According to a 2018 study, Obesity is both a risk factor for asthma in children and an asthma disease modifier in adults. A person who is overweight may have more and worse symptoms and a lower quality of life. Also, medicines might not work as well for them.
People get allergies when their bodies become used to a certain substance. Once the person has become sensitive to the substance, they are likely to have an allergic reaction every time they come in contact with it. Most people with asthma have asthma that is caused by allergies. Most asthma symptoms happen when a person breathes in an allergen.
The American Lung Association says that smoking cigarettes can make asthma symptoms worse. The lungs can also be hurt by being around people who smoke. This can make it harder for a person to respond to treatment and slow down the flow of air in their lungs.
Polluted air, both inside and outside, can make asthma worse and cause it to flare up.
Some allergens that can be found inside the house are:
- animal hair and dander
- fumes from paints and cleaners in the home.
- Other triggers in and around the house and outside are:
- pollution in the air from cars and other sources
- ground-level ozone
- Stress can make asthma flare up, but so can a lot of other feelings.
Other research has shown that long-term stress can cause epigenetic changes that can lead to asthma that lasts for a long time.
genetic factor. The ALA says that a person’s genes may have something to do with whether or not they get asthma during their lifetime. If one or both of a person’s parents have asthma, that person is more likely to get it.
Around 6.1% of males and 9.8% of females are living with asthma. Also, symptoms can be different for different people depending on their menstrual cycle and when they are going through changes like menopause. For example, a person’s symptoms may be worse during menstruation because progesterone and estrogen levels are lower at that time of the month than at other times of the month.
Hormones and asthma have a complicated relationship that is different for each person. As a woman goes through menopause, her hormone levels drop, which may make asthma symptoms worse or cause some people to get asthma. On the other hand, some people may find that their asthma gets better after menopause. Hormones can also affect how the immune system works, which can make the airways more sensitive. People who have intermittent asthma might also only have symptoms sometimes.
Diagnosis of asthma diseases
A person’s doctor will often look at their symptoms, their family and personal medical history, and the results of their tests. When the doctor makes a diagnosis, they will also write down what kind of asthma a person has based on what makes their symptoms worse. To help the doctor figure out what’s wrong, it can be helpful for a person to keep track of their symptoms and possible triggers. This should include information about things that might cause irritation at home, at school, or at work.
In the sections below, we’ll talk about some other tests a doctor may do to help figure out if someone has asthma:
Checkup on the body
Most likely, the doctor will pay attention to the upper airway, the chest, and the skin. They are likely to listen for wheezing, which can be a sign of an asthma attack or an airway that is blocked.
Also, they might look for:
- a runny nose
- swollen nasal passages.
- if there are growths inside the nose
- They will also look for signs of eczema or hives on the skin.
A lung function test may be done by the doctor to see how well the lungs are working.
The most common type of lung function test that doctors use to diagnose asthma is called a spirometry test. A person will have to take a deep breath in and then forcefully blow out into a tube.
Other tests used to make a diagnosis are:
- Challenge test: This test lets a doctor see how breathing is affected by things like cold air, exercise, or inhaled medications.
- Tests for allergies: A doctor can use a skin or blood test to see if there is a reaction.
- Blood test: A doctor may suggest a blood test to check for high levels of eosinophils and immunoglobulin E. Immunoglobulin E is an antibody that people with allergic asthma make when their immune system attacks itself.
- A doctor may also order a FeNo test and other tests to rule out other health problems.
Asthma treatments are getting better and more available. Treatment’s goal is to:
- help someone get a better breath.
- cut down on the amount of attacks.
- increase the number of things that they can do.
- A person should work with a doctor or nurse to come up with the best treatment plan for them. Some of the treatments available now are pills that work quickly and pills that work long-term.
Quick-relief medications help relieve symptoms, while long-term control medications reduce the number of attacks if they are taken every day. The following are currently used to treat asthma:
- There are both short-term and long-term bronchodilators that relax the muscles around the airways.
- antibiotics for bronchitis or pneumonia that is caused by bacteria.
- For long-term care, anti-inflammatory drugs like inhaled corticosteroids are used. For a sudden attack, oral steroids are used.
- corticosteroids and bronchodilators together
The American Lung Association (ALA) says that people with asthma should exercise regularly, even if they have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, which used to be called exercise-induced asthma. Regular exercise is good for your health in many ways, including improving your lung function and capacity. A person should talk to their doctor about what activities are safe for them before starting a new exercise plan. The doctor might tell a person to stay away from certain things. A person with asthma can usually still play sports, work out, and do other physical activities as long as they take their medicine as prescribed.
Other safe and effective ways to exercise that a person could try are:
- When they work out in cold weather, they cover their nose and mouth.
- making sure they’ve warmed up enough first.
- letting yourself cool down properly afterward.
- avoiding doing things outside when the air is bad.
- If someone feels pain while working out, they should stop and use an inhaler that works quickly. They should see a doctor if their symptoms get worse.