What Is Asthma?
When you have asthma, the muscles in your airways constrict to the extent that the lining inside your airways becomes inflamed. This narrowed air passage, combined with the secretion of thick, sticky mucus can make it difficult to breathe. Asthma is often hereditary and cannot be cured but it can be managed with the careful use of medication. It is currently not fully understood as to why some people have asthma and others don’t but genetics and allergies are thought to play a role.
It is important that you always take your asthma treatment medication, as prescribed by your general practitioner, and that you have your medication with you at all times.
What Are The Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack?
When you have trouble breathing as a result of an asthma attack or flare-up, the following symptoms are likely to present
- Tightness in your chest
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing or spluttering
These symptoms are more likely to occur during exercise, at night, or early in the morning.
What Causes Asthma Flare-Ups?
When you have asthma your airways are more sensitive to what is referred to as ‘asthma triggers’. Some of the more common triggers for asthma attacks include
- Allergens such as pollen, dust, mites, mould and pet hair
- Infections like colds and flu
- Certain medications
- Cigarette smoke
- Weather phenomena such as thunderstorms, cold air or temperature fluctuations
- Exercise, sexual activity and laughter may also induce asthma flare-ups in some people
Managing your triggers is essential to avoid flare-ups. Keeping your home, school or work environment clean and allergen-free is very important when you have asthma. Avoiding environmental triggers is an important part of your asthma treatment that can save you from asthmatic emergencies.
Asthma Can Be Caused By Allergies
It’s estimated that as many as 80% of asthma sufferers have asthma too. If you are finding your asthma is difficult to manage, speak to your general practitioner about an allergy management strategy.
When Asthma Is Triggered By Exercise
For many asthma sufferers, flare-ups can be triggered by exercise as the airways constrict. If you suffer from exercise-induced asthma you will probably feel the symptoms of an asthma attack starting five to 15 minutes after you start to work out. In the majority of cases, the symptoms are likely to subside 30 to 60 minutes after you stop exercising. Warming up before vigorous exercise can help to prevent this. It is important that you consult with your healthcare provider about how to approach exercise when you live with asthma, so you can continue to live a healthy life.
Infections Place You At Risk Of An Asthma Attack
For many people having a cold or flu is something they recover from quickly, but for patients who have asthma, these kinds of infections place them at greater risk of an asthma flare-up. It is also believed that severe infections before the age of two can result in the development of asthma symptoms. A large percentage of adults with asthma also have sinus disease.
It’s important to note that there are certain kinds of medications that can trigger asthma attacks so you do need to discuss any new medicine you want to start taking with your general practitioner, even if it is available over the counter. Beta-blockers, aspirin and ACE inhibitors have all been documented to cause flare-ups and should be avoided.
In addition to avoiding triggers, taking your asthma treatment medication is essential to manage your condition. You can expect to take different medications and must follow your doctor’s instructions.
These desensitise your airways to triggers and reduce inflammation in your airways. They should be taken every day.
These are fast-acting medications that are taken to reduce the symptoms of an asthma attack. They relax the muscles around your airways to provide you with rapid relief.
These are preventer medicines that contain two different types of medication.
You should have an asthma action plan available so that the people around you know how to help in the event of a flare-up.
So, What Causes Asthma?
Asthma is caused by a combination of heredity and triggers that are different for everyone. Knowing what your triggers are, taking your medication regularly and working closely with your healthcare provider gives you the best chance of managing your condition well.
To find out more about what causes asthma and how you can modify your lifestyle, please contact us for a convenient appointment:(02) 9884 9300.