Asthma – What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments!

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that leads to an exaggerated response of the bronchi to stimuli such as irritants, climatic and emotional factors. Contracted, the bronchioles (small air channels in the lungs) limit the flow of oxygen, causing shortness of breath and wheezing.

Unlike bronchitis , asthma has no cure, but it can be controlled. Treatment is for life, but following medical recommendations, it is possible to reduce crises. In addition, according to data from the Brazilian Society of Pulmonology and Tisiology (SBPT), asthma affects more than 22 million Brazilians.

An inflammatory disease in the bronchi that makes the lungs more sensitive, reacting to the slightest sign of irritation, asthma affects about 300 million people worldwide, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). The disorder, which ranges from children to the elderly, has a genetic origin, with its symptoms intensified by environmental factors such as dust, viruses (flu), etc.

As much as it has a genetic basis, which means that the patient is born with a predisposition to the development of the disease, its occurrence depends a lot on the interaction of the individual and the environment. The manifestation of the problem will depend on exposure to various substances that are suspended in the air and can trigger the allergic process, the one we know as sensitization, such as mites, mold, dust and dog and cat fur.

Symptoms: wheezing and tightness in the chest; dry cough, especially at night and in the morning, on waking; shortness of breath and wheezing. It is more common for signs to appear in childhood, but seizures may only appear in adulthood. Symptoms can be mild and appear sporadically or appear more frequently, with attacks occurring more than twice a week. Next, learn about the problem intensifiers, indicated by the Brazilian Association of Asthmatics (ABRA).

  • Allergy: Dust found in the home and environmental mites tend to become aggravating to the problem.
  • Infections: mainly those caused by viruses (such as flu and colds) are identified as important triggers for crises.
  • Physical exercise: some people who suffer from the disease may have crises after physical activity, such as in a race or a football match, requiring medication.
  • Irritants: perfumes, cold air, pollution, among other gases can irritate the respiratory tract.
  • Cigarette smoke: according to the WHO, smoking is the largest preventable cause of death in the world, annually killing 5 million smokers on the planet, 200,000 of which in Brazil. The habit of smoking also tends to worsen asthma attacks, since the smoke contains toxic substances that irritate the respiratory mucosa of those who suffer from the disease. Another problem is passive inhalation, which happens when a person does not smoke, but inhales the smoke of other smokers.
  • Medications: Some medications can increase the chances of an asthma attack. Aspirin and other anti-inflammatories are some examples.
  • Emotional Aspects: it is common for some people to develop an asthma attack at a time of stress, for example.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux: people who suffer from food reflux tend to have exacerbated asthma attacks.

Types of Asthma: To classify the severity of your asthma , your doctor considers the clinical analysis along with the results of your tests. Determining how severe your asthma is helps your doctor choose the best treatment. In addition, the severity of asthma may change over time, necessitating medication readjustment. Asthma is classified into four general categories:

  • Grade 1: mild and intermittent symptoms up to two days a week and up to two nights a month, usually with a predominance of symptoms in winter, for example.
  • Grade 2: Persistent, mild symptoms more than twice a week, but not more than once in a single day
  • Grade 3: Moderate persistent symptoms once a day and more than one night a week
  • Grade 4: Severe symptoms persisting throughout the day on most days and often at night.

Diagnosis: Performed with clinical evaluation and additional tests. If the patient is a child, it is important for parents to pay attention to the duration of symptoms, frequency, timing of symptoms, and note any medication used and reactions, as the adult is responsible for explaining the child’s conditions. Tests such as spirometry, which assess respiratory function, may be requested.

Treatment for Asthma: Although exposure to environmental factors that cause allergies (mites, pet dander, cigarettes) triggers asthma attacks , the problem is part of a genetic predisposition – so anyone with an asthmatic parent should be alert. So the problem has no cure.

However, this does not mean that its carriers cannot lead a normal life. Therefore, several behavioral measures need to be part of everyday life: avoid curtains and rugs in houses that accumulate dust, drink plenty of water, not smoke, practice sports that strengthen the respiratory muscles (swimming is a great option) and, of course, keep distance of the agents causing the crisis.

Medications can also be used, divided into two categories: in one, there are bronchial dilating medications, more indicated for moments of crisis; in the other, there are remedies with anti-inflammatory properties, suitable for maintenance and prevention. In the second case, substances administered by inhalation have a better effect, thanks to firecrackers. Who are valuable allies, but not always well regarded:

We currently work with different medicines through firecrackers. There are different bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids. In this way, we increase the concentration of the drug in the lungs and have fewer side effects. It is very important to understand that the firecracker does not kill or even addict. This is a misconception. In addition, it is very important that, once the disease is under control, the patient does not neglect the treatment or modify it on his own.

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