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Asthma

Putting It All Together: Asthma

Friday, March 16, 2012 - 17:05

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to asthma in adults.

  • Asthma is a condition in which extra-sensitive lungs overreact to certain irritating conditions called "triggers."
  • In asthma, the air passages of the lung are chronically inflamed, meaning they are red and swollen. When an asthma attack occurs, the muscle in the walls of the air passages may contract, causing the airways to narrow.
  • The signs of an asthma attack or episode include difficulty in breathing because of narrowed airways caused by tightened muscles around the airways, swelling of the inner linings of the airways, and mucus that is clogging the airways.
  • Symptoms of asthma may include coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and excess mucus production.
  • "Good asthma control" means that one does not experience wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and interruption of sleep, that exercise and daily activities are carried out normally, and that reliever medicines are used less than three times per week.
  • We don't know why some adults get asthma, but many have a history of childhood allergies, asthma, or both.
  • Asthma is a chronic condition that cannot be cured but can be successfully treated.
  • Both allergic and non-allergic types of asthma exist.
  • Asthma symptoms usually develop over a period of time and may be triggered by changes in the external environment such as very hot or cold weather, and by changes in the pollution and pollen levels in the air.
  • Managing asthma episodes includes taking the correct medications, using breathing relaxation and pursed-lip breathing exercises, and coughing and mucus removal.
  • Medications to manage asthma come in various forms, such as tablets and inhaled forms.
  • Using a peak flow meter as the doctor recommends can help you determine if an asthma attack is coming, even if you feel fine at the time.

Asthma