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Asthma – Types, Causes, Risk Factors, Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

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What is asthma?

It is a lung disease in which the airway and the lungs swell up (inflamed), making it difficult for the person to move air in and out of his/her lungs. It is a chronic, serious, and sometimes life-threatening disease. If you want to know more about Type of Asthma, Causes of Asthma, Risk factors of Asthma and Signs and Symptoms of Asthma then read this article till the end.

An “asthmatic attack” is exaggerated by various factors, which makes the muscles around the airway tighten hence make breathing more difficult.

What is Asthma and types of Asthma

How does it all happen?

• Three main components of asthma are narrowing and thickening of the airway with increased fluid-like (mucus) production.

• On exposure to triggering factors like allergens, sensitizers, viruses, and air pollutants, there is an initiation of deposition of a few white blood cells and cells released by our immune system.

• It causes thickening of the walls of airways and tightening of the smooth muscles around the airways, making it very difficult to breathe.

• Due to the increased production of fluid-like substance (mucus), there is obstruction of the airways limiting movement of air in and out.

• The more scientific explanation is that allergens cause the cells lining the airway to lose their protective barrier. They start shedding the cells, which causes the bout of allergic reactive response.

• Airway narrowing happens due to an increase in the blood supply and the number of blood vessels present in the airway (dilation of the vessels).

So, this is how it all happen and that’s why you need to know all the signs and symptoms of Asthma, let’s have a look at Causes of Asthma below.

Causes Of Asthma:

• Environmental stimuli: Smoking is the most common causes of Asthma. Passive smoking also results in being a causes of asthma. Then environmental factors like air pollution, engine & welding fumes, dust particles/mites, fire smoke, house paints in case of building contractors and certain hair products/sprays for individuals working at a hair salon, pollens, domestic pets, air pollution and dampness or mold exposure. Signs and symptoms of asthma is also important to know with causes. So, Just don’t stop here read the article till the end.

• Accompanied with other infections: viral infections like rhinovirus have shown to be a common trigger. It has shown an association with respiratory syncytial virus infection. So, this is also a common causes of asthma.

• GERD causes repetitive episodes of reflux in the throat, which irritates the throat lining predisposing it to worsening of the symptoms.

• Genetics it has shown familial association

• Atopy/genetic tendency to develop allergic disease allergic rhinitis is present in >80% of asthmatic patients.

• Smoking is one of the common causes.

• Diet: Obese individuals, BMI >30 kg/m2 show worsening of symptoms. Few studies show diet consisting of low doses of vitamin C, D, A, magnesium, and omega-3 are associated with asthma.

• Air pollution: Air chemicals like nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and diesel particulates when present in the air worsen and trigger asthma.

• Drugs: Acetaminophen (paracetamol)usage in children may trigger asthma as it causes an imbalance between the antioxidants and the free radicles present in the body. Beta-blockers and aspirin have also shown to worsen the condition.

• Hormones Premenstrual period, thyrotoxicosis and hypothyroidism worsen the symptoms. Even low levels of progesterone cause worsening of the symptoms.

• Stress: Psychological factors cause bronchoconstriction hence worsen the symptoms.

• Physical factors: Exposure to weather conditions like cold air, hot air, or change in weather may trigger an attack. Various emotions like bouts of laughter or crying or exposure to a strong smell of perfume can also trigger asthma.

• Exercising: It may cause an imbalance between the oxygen taken in and carbon dioxide left out by the lungs making it difficult to breathe; this is called “exercise-induced asthma.”

• Babies and infants: Pre-term, low birth weight, infants born by cesarean sections, are not breastfed, and who have a history of their mothers smoking during pregnancy, are more prone to suffer from asthma.

So above are the major causes of asthma, if you want to know more then click on the below button. Move ahead to know about risk factors of Asthma, Signs and symptoms of Asthma here.

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Risk factors Of Asthma:

• Atopy: Individuals who have a history of allergic diseases, like allergic rhinitis or atopic dermatitis are more prone to developing asthma.

• Genetics: Your chances of getting asthma increase if someone in your family, siblings/parents, have asthma.

• Occupation: Farmers, woodworkers, wheat flour, winemakers, birds/animal breeders, and individuals working at salons who have long term exposure to the allergens have a higher risk of developing asthma.

• Lifestyle: Smoking has shown to exacerbate the condition.

• Viral infections: They may increase the risk of developing asthma.

• Obesity

Risk factors of Asthma

Types Of Asthma:

 

Name Clinical Features
Acute Severe Asthma • Acute chest tightening with difficulty in breathing that is not relieved by the use of inhalers.

• Individual can’t talk due to breathlessness.

• Blue discoloration of skin and nails.

• Increased heart rate

• Give a high concentration of oxygen >90%

• Use a high dose of short-acting beta-agonist.

Refractory Asthma · Individual experiences persistent symptoms even after taking medications.

· Frequent attacks

· Low lung functioning

Aspirin sensitive Asthma · There is worsening after the use of aspirin or other COX inhibitors.

· Common in patients with frequent history of hospitalization.

· It is associated with rhinitis/ nasal discharge, facial flushing and wheezing.

· Treatment is using inhaled corticosteroids.

Asthma in the Elderly· Age is >65 years

· COPD co-exist with asthma

· Beta-agonists cause muscle tremors/shaking in the elderly

Brittle Asthma · Type I shows a persistent pattern of variation in lung function and may require oral corticosteroids at times or continuous usage of Beta-agonists.

· Type II brittle asthma generally show normal lung functions with an unpredictable fall in lung function resulting in death.

· Subcutaneous epinephrine is the drug of choice in type II

Corticosteroid Resistant Asthma · Individual shows a poor response to corticosteroids

· Failure to respond to high dose of oral prednisolone (40 mg once daily for 2 weeks)

· Corticosteroids have a less anti-inflammatory effect on the monocytes and lymphocytes (inflammatory cells)

Asthma-COPD overlap· Individuals who are smokers suffer from it

· There are features of both COPD and asthma

· Triple therapy of inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting Beta-agonists and long-acting muscarinic antagonists is useful

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma:

There are two phases of signs and symptoms of Asthma, early and late. The first phage lasts for 1 to 2 weeks, and late phage generally starts after 2 weeks and can last up to 10 weeks. Just have a look at these two phases of signs and symptoms of Asthma –

 

Early/catarrhalLate / Paroxysmal
Low-grade feverRapid coughs
Mild coughHigh pitched whooping sound at end of cough
Runny noseFatigue
In babies- apnea, breathing with a pauseVomiting during or after cough due to thick mucus production
Mimics common coldCough worsens at night

Recovery/ Convalescent: there is decrease in the rate of coughing and the person returns to being normal.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

 

Alarming signs And Symptoms Of Asthma:

• Chest pain

• Bluish discoloration of fingers, skin or nails (cyanosis)

• Compromised breathing / severe difficulty in breathing

• Difficulty in walking or talking.

Complications of Asthma:

Persistent asthma

• Chronic Cor pulmonale~ Due to high blood pressure in the vessels of the lung, there is an expansion in the size of the heart (right ventricle ), which eventually leads to heart failure.

• Damage to the air sac (emphysema)

• There may be excessive formation of the connective tissue in the lungs (Pneumosclerosis)

• Chronic respiratory failure

• Obstruction or deformation of the small airway passage (bronchi) of the lung.

Asthma exacerbations

• Asthmatic attack which does not improve on using inhaled corticosteroids (Asthmatic status)

• Acute or Subacute Cor pulmonale

• Leakage of air from the lungs causing it to collapse

• Air-sacs fill up with fluid-like substance and may get infected (Pneumonia)

• Air leaks out from the lung and gets trapped between the lung and chest wall (Pneumothorax)

• Air escapes out from the lungs into the mesh-like tissue separating the two lungs containing the heart and blood vessels (Pneumomediastinum )

In children

• Disturbed sleep

• Delay in growth

• Risk of learning disabilities

In adults

Depression

• Stress

• Inability to carry out routine activities

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Diagnosis Of Asthma: 

If you are facing any signs and symptoms of Asthma then you should follow these diagnosis of Asthma.

• Proper patient history: It is essential to know the duration, when it happens (day/night), how often it happens, triggering factors, and to look out for alert signs.

• Physical examination: Auscultation of the chest is an important one.

Prevention Of Asthma:

• Avoid cigarette smoke: quit cigarette smoking and avoid being a passive smoker as well.

• Keep the air moist

• Vaccines: getting a flu vaccine to prevent influenza and virus and from preventing certain types of pneumonia.

• Exercise regularly: helps in preventing an attack and from being overweight, which worsens your symptoms too.

• Use air purifiers: prevents allergen and provides better air quality around you.

• Use N-95 mask: prevents you from allergens/ dust particles/air pollution; these trigger an asthmatic attack.

• Treat the heartburn: acid reflux causes damage to the lung airways hence worsens your symptoms. It is better to treat your gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn symptoms as soon as possible as they aid in getting relieved from your asthma symptoms.

Treatment Of Asthma:

Treatment of Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

Quick rescue

• Short-acting Beta Agonists: They act within a few minutes and help by relaxing smooth muscle cells of airways and by preventing tightening of the muscles (Albuterol, Terbutaline, and Levalbuterol, duration of action 3-6 hrs) used by a metered-dose inhaler with a spacer or nebulizer.

Remedies: 

These remedies also works if you are facing any signs and symptoms of Asthma. Just follow –

• Using a humidifier and an air purifier: Asthma gets triggered in cold temperate and low humid air; hence heated humidified air helps and aided use of air purifier helps in getting rid of any allergens that could trigger the attack.

• Drinking caffeine: It has shown to benefit people by decreasing muscle fatigue, improving lung function up to 4 hours after having of it.

• The use of ginger and turmeric: has shown to reduce the frequency of asthmatic attacks due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

• Dry ginger, long pepper, and black pepper: ground them to a powder and take it along with honey, 3 times/day. This mixture helps in reducing the swelling/inflammation of the airways.

• Try drinking ginger soup/ tea: Take 2-3 crushed cloves of garlic and mix with ginger tea and then drink this. Ginger and garlic cloves help to reduce inflammation.

• Drinking honey with cinnamon juice: Bring a cup of water to boil and add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder to it. Let it rest and then add 1 teaspoon of honey to the mixture and drink it twice a day.

• Bay leaf: take dry and crushed bay leaf in powder form (1/4 teaspoon), then mix it with one teaspoon of organic honey and have this mixture thrice a day to prevent symptoms of asthma.

• Peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils: have anti-inflammatory and de-stressing properties; however, in a few cases, they can act as triggering factors.

• Declutter your living space: Avoid using rugs, carpets, encase pillows, heavy drapes. Clean your house of dust, use washable and light blinds or curtains.

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Living with Asthma

• Follow the line of treatment: Train yourself to handle asthmatic attacks, whom to contact in times of emergency, and when to see a doctor. Look for alert signs.

• Identify your triggering factors: Stay away from pollens, air pollutants, or any other physical factors that trigger your attack.

• Keep a check of your symptoms: Its duration and severity. Keep a diary to track them.

• Get adequate sleep: If your symptoms are disturbing you to sleep, more than twice a month, see a doctor and discuss it.

• Exercise and keep your weight under control: Obesity worsens the symptoms. Try maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

• Pregnancy: If you conceive, contact your doctor and discuss the risk related to pregnancy.

• Avoid emotional stress

• Vaccination: get vaccinated against the flu since it is essential to prevent infection and to trigger an asthmatic attack.

• Use humidifier and air purifiers: to prevent allergens and cold air.

• Quit smoking

• Avoid places: that have molds, dust mites, or pet dander.

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