Bronchial asthma is just a different term to present Asthma that is an inflammatory disease of the airways which causes periodic coughs, wheezing, shortness of breath or tightness of the chest. Some experience these conditions during the morning hours while some others at night that is called nocturnal asthma. Some come across these symptoms while exercising, known as the exercise induced asthma.
What causes Bronchial Asthma?
Knowing its Signs and Symptoms
The primarily factor that triggers asthma is allergy but there are several other factors that is associated with asthma. Genetic inheritance is also associated with allergy that leads to asthma. Parts of our body that are responsible for bronchial asthma are the mast cells, eosinophils and the T lymphocytes. Histamine is a chemical released by the allergy causing cells called mast cells that results in constriction of the airways and nasal stuffiness. White blood cells called the eosinophils and T lymphocytes are associated with inflammation and allergic diseases.
Bronchial Asthma has no age bars. It can begin at any age but usually begins at a very young age. Children sometimes stop showing signs of asthma by the time they enter their teens. For others asthma symptoms start showing up at in their adulthood also known as the adult onset asthma.
Asthma attacks causes difficulty in breathing. Asthma symptoms may be mild in some while in others it may be severe. Asthma attacks can happen anything even after one has been symptom free for quite some time. In case of a severe asthmatic attack, one’s life can be in danger if the right medical assistance is not provided at the right time.
Common asthma signs and symptoms are:
- Tightness of Chest or congestion
- Shortening of breath
- Difficulty in speaking (in case of severe attacks)
- Blueness near the mouth (in case of severe attacks).
Those showing constant signs of asthma often suffers airway inflammation to some extent and their airways are more sensitive to any kind of irritants. These irritants or triggers results in tightening of the airways causing coughing, breathlessness or wheezing eventually leading to an asthma attack. Asthma triggers may include
- Cold, flu or pneumonia infection
- Allergy from substances like certain type of food, pollen, dust mites, skin flakes etc.
- During exercise
- Pollutants from the air or any other toxins
- Temperature & Climatic changes
- Intact of drugs like aspirin or beta blockers
- Food flavour enhancers like MSG
- Any kind of stress & anxiety
- Activities like laughing, singing or crying
- Body sprays or perfumes
Diagnoses for Bronchial Asthma
It is important that you highlight your asthma signs and symptoms to your doctor at the right time. These symptoms may how up during exercising or when you are having cold. There are several asthma tests some of which includes:
- Spirometry test: This test is conducted in order to test the functioning of your lungs, how well you breathe and your breathing capacity. The device used to test this is called the spirometer.
- Peak expiratory flow test : Peak flow meter is a device that is used to measure the force of air you expend out of your lungs by forcefully exhaling into the tube. This test will allow you to monitor the status of your asthma and how well it is doing at home.
- X-ray of your chest : In order to rule out the possibility of any other disease, a chest x-ray is recommended by your doctor.
How to treat Bronchial Asthma
Asthma triggers can be controlled with proper medication. There are several medication that are recommended for Asthma. Out of which some of the common medications are:
- Corticostreoid is an inhaled medication that helps in reducing swelling and also decreases the body’s reaction towards triggers. Such type of medications are called preventers. These medicines needs to be taken on regular basis to avoid these symptoms. Some examples of preventers are Pulmicort, Beclozone & Flixotide
- Bronchodilators helps the airways muscle to relax. These are termed as relievers. They reduces constriction and helps one manage the symptoms of asthma. Before being exposure to any known triggers it is always advisable to use a reliever.
- Symptom controllers are a type of long acting relievers that is used in conjunction with a preventer. These controllers relaxes the airway muscles and should be used two times in a day. Symptom controllers reduces your need to use a reliever. Some samples for these are Serevent & Foradil.
- Combination inhalers are a mix of both preventer and symptom controller medicine put together in one device. Examples are Seretide and Symbicort
All the above mentioned medicines are inhaled and delivered straight to the lungs where the start working immediately.
In case of a serious asthma attack the patient may need to be hospitalised and put under relieving medications.
Tips to manage Asthma
- It is difficult to prevent asthma but one can control it to quiet some extend. It is necessary that we learn to avoid triggers. This will in turn help us reduce frequency and symptom of asthma attack. Taking proper medications at the right time is necessary to ease asthma symptoms. Regular reading from the peak flow meter and keeping a track of these measurements will help you judge how well controlled your asthma is. It also indicates worsening condition if any.
- One needs to have a self-managed asthma plan to track your asthma. This is nothing but a manual guideline that explains what steps to be taken when asthma worsens. This is done by the individual after consultation with their doctor or any asthma specialist.
- The Buteyko method is a breathing technique to control asthma. This is one of the secondary method. One needs to be physically fit and needs to quit smoking in order to get asthma symptoms and attacks under control. Desensitisation and avoiding allergen is also one of the methods. Acupuncture, homeopathy and massage can also help in managing asthma.
- There are few signs that indicates the worsening condition of a patient. They are night waking, breathlessness or difficulty speaking on exertion, loss of response to your reliever.
Dr. Avni Deshmukh an expert medical consultant in Mumbai (India). Also writer for various blogs about symptoms, cure and treatment of Bronchial Asthma, Cough etc for adults and children.