What is asthma?

Inflammation of airways to the lungs is called asthma. Asthma causes difficulty in breathing and challenges the physical activities of the patients with this disease. In America about 25 million patients are suffering from asthma according to the CDC that is CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION. It is very common in American children as well, as according to survey one out of twelve children has asthma problem. Before understanding what asthma is you must know what processes in involves breathing or what happens when you breathe. Breathing is a process when you take air in, it goes from your nose passing from throat to the airways and then finally into the lungs. Small air passages are present in the lungs that transport oxygen to the bloodstream after collecting it from the air. Asthma begins when the lining of the airways get swollen and the surrounding muscles tighten. Mucus is filled in the airways that reduce the amount of oxygen or air that can pass through. This condition causes attack of asthma and symptoms like coughing and chest tightness begins.

What causes asthma?

Single cause is not involved in asthma but it is a combination of different factors according to researchers. This breathing condition is initiated by number of factors that are:

  • Genetics: if you are living with a parent or sibling with asthma then your risk of developing is likely to be high.
  • History of Viral Infections: if a person has a history of chronic viral infections in his childhood like RSV then he is at high risk of developing the condition.
  • Hygiene hypothesis: according to this theory, if newborn or children are not exposed to bacteria needed in their early month and years, their immune system is not strong enough to fight with asthma and other allergic conditions.

Sign and Symptoms of asthma: (1)

Sign and symptoms of asthma in adults and children are mostly same and most of the time they face difficulty in breathing. Symptoms of asthma which are common:

  • A whistling sound appears on breathing is called wheezing.
  • Breathlessness
  • Chest tightness, it feels like band is tightening the surrounding of chest
  • Coughing

These symptoms can be associated with other medical conditions as well but it will confirm the asthma if:

  • These symptoms happen often and repeat coming back
  • It is worse at night and also in the early morning
  • Asthma trigger seems to happen in result when the patient is exposed to any allergic particle like pollen or fur of animal also during exercise.

Patient should visit the general practitioner if he finds the above symptoms and get the treatment started.

Asthma attacks:

When asthma gets worse for the short duration this is called asthma attack. It might happen suddenly and gradually within few days.

Signs and symptoms of severe attack of asthma are:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness that get severe and remain constant
  • Patient become breathless that it is very difficult to eat, talk or sleep
  • Breathing become faster
  • Heartbeat is very fast
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • Lips and fingers turn blue
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue

Types of asthma:

Though there are many kinds of asthma but bronchial asthma is the most common type that affects the bronchi of the lungs. Some additional types of asthma involve:

  • Childhood asthma
  • Adult onset asthma

Symptoms will not appear in adult onset asthma until the age of 20. Some other types of asthma are:

Allergic asthma or extrinsic asthma

This type of asthma is triggered by allergens and that allergens include:

  • Dander pet from cats and dogs
  • Food
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Dust

This type of asthma is seasonal because it happens on and off according to the season.

Non-allergic asthma or intrinsic asthma

Irritants present in the air but they are not related to trigger of allergies can cause asthma. Such irritants are:

  • Burning wood
  • Smoke of cigarette
  • Cold air
  • Air pollution
  • Viral illness
  • Air fresheners
  • Cleaning products of household
  • Perfumes

Occupational asthma

This type of asthma is triggered at the work place from:

  • Dust
  • Dyes
  • Gases and fumes
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Animal proteins
  • Rubber latex

These irritants are present in industries of:

  • Farming
  • Textiles
  • Woodworking
  • Manufacturing

Exercise induced bronchoconstriction

It usually affect in few minutes after starting exercise and also after any physical activity. Ninety percent of people experience this type of asthma.

Aspirin induced asthma.

It is very severe of type and is triggered by aspirin and also from NSAID like naproxen and ibuprofen. Nine percent of people have aspirin induced asthma.

Nocturnal asthma

Symptoms get worsen at night time in this type of asthma. Triggers are:

  • Heartburn
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites.

Cough variant asthma

In this type wheezing or breathless is not observed only persistent cough is the symptom of cough variant asthma. If left untreated then other symptoms of asthma will appear with flares.

Diagnosis of asthma:

Diagnosis of asthma can be done by the following:

  • Health history
  • Physical exam
  • Breathing test

Treatment of asthma:  (2)

Treatment of asthma can be done by three methods:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Quick acting treatment
  • Long term asthma control medications.

Breathing exercises:

This exercise helps you to inhale more air in and out of lungs. With the passage if time it help to reduce the severity of asthma.

Quick relief asthma treatments:

These medications are only given during asthma attack. And include:

  • Bronchodilators
  • First aid asthma treatment: when a person experience asthma attack you should make them sit and give them nebulizer or inhaler. Puff from 2 to 6 can lessen the symptoms. If this doesn’t works then seek medical attention immediately.

Long term asthma control medications:

These medications are taken on daily basis to control asthma symptoms. Medicine in long term asthma controls are:

  • Anti-inflammatory: it help reducing the symptoms by lessen the swelling and formation of mucus present in the airways so a patient can breathe easily
  • Anticholinergics: these medications reduce the muscle tightening from the airways. They must be taken daily with the combination of anti-inflammatory.
  • Long acting bronchodilators: they are also given with the combination of anti-inflammatory medicines.
  • Biologic drug therapy: these are new injectable that will help reduce the Severity of asthma.


  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/symptoms/
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/asthma