Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

What Every Asthmatic Should Know

asthma3Asthma starves you of breath. During an asthma attack, the whole bronchial tube of our lungs constricts and each breath becomes an exercise. Actually, asthma patients have more difficulty in breathing out rather than breathing in, because breathing out is a passive process and it is caused by a spasm of the smaller air passage in the lung. At My health Guardian we talked to Dr. S.N. Gaur, head, department of pulmonary diseases, Vallabh Bhai Patel Chest Institute to get an insight on this breath-robbing disease.

Why there are more incidences of asthma during change of seasons?
Asthma patients have hypersensitive lung airways. A light drop or rise in temperature or change in the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere can trigger an attack. The airways become accustomed to a particular temperature, and any change, therefore, causes problems. The change in weather is often accompanied with the onset of airborne allergies, and asthma begins as an allergic reaction, which leads to inflammation of the inner lining of the bronchi— the breathing tubes. A respiratory infection such as bronchitis can also provoke an attack. Whatever the triggers bronchial tubes become inflamed and plugged with mucous, which squeezes the airways further. The most important factor in asthma is the spasm of the muscle in the bronchial wall. As a result when asthmatics breathe it sounds like air rushing through their airways—characteristic wheeze.

How do I know if my child is asthmatic?

The commonest symptom is cough. There are a few who will not have cough but will have breathing difficulty. Cough, with or without breathing difficulty, is the main symptom of asthma. The cough may be persistent or might come in bouts. It might appear chesty and be more when the child runs around or plays. It might be less when he is quiet. The child might cough especially during sleep, and cough accompanied with extreme restlessness gives stronger clue for asthma.

What makes inhaler or nebuliser better than conventional medicines for treating asthma?

Inhalers allow people with asthma to lead active lives without much fear of an attack. They enable children and adults with asthma to deliver medicine directly to their lungs nearly anytime and anywhere. A nebuliser is a machine that creates a mist of medicine, which is then breathed in through a mask or mouthpiece. They are more commonly used to give high doses of reliever medicine in an emergency situation, where patient is unable to synchronise breathing with inhaler, but are no more effective than an inhaler and spacer for treating most asthma attacks.

What happens during a severe attack of asthma?

In a severe attack of asthma oxygen levels can go down rapidly in the body and carbon-di-oxide levels may start to rise, if the attack is not brought under control at the earliest it is a life threatening situation it may necessitate mechanical ventillation in an Intensive Care Unit.

What can I do to keep my asthma under control?

  • Stay away from sources of allergies in your home, school or workplace, such as—pet dander, dust mites , cockroaches and flowering season of the pollen to which patient is allergic.
  • Refrain from vaccuming your house.
  • Prefer wet swipes to dusting.
  • If your pet is causing you allergy, you may have to give your pet away for adoption.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed by the doctor.
  • Treat your colds aggressively; it doesn’t take long for a sneeze to turn in a wheeze.
  • Stay away from tobacco smoke, wood smoke and fragrances.
  • Avoid stress and rather understand the symptoms of diseases progression as well as the remedial medications for acute attack, as explained to you by your doctor.
  • Avoid exertion and heavy physical activity during acute attack.
  • In case allergens are identified, allergen immunotherapy is really a useful adjuvant therapy for long term relief, although it is a slower process in producing effects.
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