Asthma is a lung disease that causes inflammation of lungs and narrows the airways in the lungs. This chronic condition can occur at any age and can affect children, adults and elderly people. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), approx. 235 million people suffer from asthma across the world. Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and chest tightness. Asthma episodes can vary from person to person, it can be mild, moderate or severe.
Some of the reasons which can trigger asthma symptoms are dust, pollution, irritants in the air (smoke, chemicals, fumes), exposure to allergens, pollens, tobacco smoke, extreme weather conditions, strong odours, animal dander, etc. Apart from these environmental causes, genes also play an important role. If any one of the parent has asthma then children are more likely to suffer from the same. It can also develop because of certain allergies or respiratory infections. It has been shown that certain medication might also trigger an asthma attack like aspirin, beta-blockers and some anti-inflammatory drugs.
Asthma is generally classified in four categories-
- Mild Intermittent - Symptoms appear up to 2 days per week.
- Mild Persistent - Symptoms appear more than twice per week.
- Moderate Persistent - Symptoms appear more than once per day.
- Severe Persistent - Most of the days symptoms appear throughout the day but frequently at night.
Asthma cannot only be controlled by medications, but it is also very essential to control and avoid the triggers as well. If a person is uncertain whether he/she has asthma or not then there are certain medical tests as well to detect. Some of the tests are-
- Lung function test
- Metacholine challenge
- Nitric oxide test
- Imaging tests
- Allergy tests
- Sputum eosinophils
- Exercise and cold-induced asthma tests
Although asthma is incurable but with proper care and management, a person can enjoy a good quality of life. Here are some of the tips which can be practised to reduce the exposure of its triggers:
- Always keep your home and work station clean.
- If you are allergic to dander then avoid pets with fur.
- Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean to avoid the growth of moulds due to dampness.
- Use a dehumidifier or air purifier.
- If you have cold-induced asthma then cover your face and nose.
- Make sure that home decor like pillows, cushions, curtains and mattresses are dust free.
- Maintain an active lifestyle.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you are on medications then always carry your medications or inhalers to avoid the worse.