What is Asthma? – Definition of Asthma
What is asthma? Asthma is a serious long-term chronic disease that affects one’s respiratory system. It causes a tightness in the airways and makes breathing difficult. The genes (partly) responsible for it are inherited, and it is not curable. Children who have low birth weight or malnutrition have an especially high risk of asthma.
People who suffer from asthma have airways that tend to be swollen or inflamed. Actually, nearly all asthma sufferers have allergies. That’s because the antibodies, which are usually triggered by an allergic reaction, often cause inflammation. When the airways are inflamed, they will be extremely sensitive to irritation, and become even more vulnerable to allergens in the air.
When the lining of the airways is inflamed, it will become narrower, and thus your lungs will receive less air. At the same time, the produced gas – carbon dioxide – cannot be released. With the narrowed airways you will experience breathing difficulties like constant coughing, hissing sounds and a tightness in the chest. As this happens more often at night, it prevents asthma sufferers from having a peaceful sleep.
What is an Asthma Attack?
What is an asthma attack? An asthma attack is the sudden worsening of the symptoms. Milder attacks allow enough air to reach your lungs, but they slow the pace of carbon dioxide release. If this process lasts too long, the trapped CO2 can build up in your lungs and occupy places where oxygen should exist.
Severe asthma attacks are even more dangerous. Your airways will be so blocked that oxygen fails to reach your lungs. That means there won’t be enough oxygen to maintain normal function of your body’s vital organs, which can be fatal. Statistics have shown that every year about 255,000 people die because of an asthma attack. So if the symptoms do get worse, immediate hospitalization is a must.
Reasons for Asthma Attacks
Certain factors are considered responsible for asthma attacks. The most common trigger is the indoor air pollution from mold, pollen or dust mites. Smoke from cigarettes is also one of the leading triggers. So is gas produced during the cooking process.
However, there are some triggers that are not as widespread as air pollution. For example, women’s menstrual cycles. Research showed that right after ovulation female patients with asthma are 23 times more likely to experience a coughing fit, like regular smokers and those with a BMI (body mass index).
Other research has suggested that the way you enter the world also influences your vulnerability to asthma attacks. Compared with those born by Caesarean section, babies delivered by vaginal birth are 20% less likely to suffer from asthma. And if you were exposed to smoke when you were just an infant, the risk will go even higher.
Seek treatment for asthma
As the reasons for an attack are varied, you have to identify the trigger of your asthma symptoms in order to avoid it. It is advisable to see your doctor and get some prescribed medication.
Make sure you take as many precautionary measures to control your asthma as possible, or you will not be able to participate in certain enjoyable activities. Furthermore, attacks cause you to miss school or work more often, which leaves a bad impression on your teachers or boss.
Now you have an overview of what asthma is, what an asthma attack is, and treatments for asthma. Here is more information about asthma and allergies.