Monday, April 7th, 2014

Understand Asthma

Your Throat Closes-up, Your Chest Tightens, and You Feel Like You are Breathing Through A Straw! Next may come coughing spells, wheezing, difficulty breathing, thick mucus, anxiety, and panic. That’s an asthma attack, and even if you have never had the chronic inflammatory condition that causes it, it can hit anyone at any age….

Astounded to read this fact? Don’t be, as Guardian Health Chronicle interviews three renowned pulmonologist of the city, Dr Himanshu Garg Consultant Pulmonologist to help you understand this breath-stealing disease and learn the trick to restore fun with asthma. Read to know how to fix the wheeze…

Why asthma happens
When you have asthma, your airways and lungs overreact to dust, pollen, mold, and other pollutants. When irritated, your breathing passages swell and the adjacent muscles constrict, causing you to cough, wheeze, or feel like you cannot draw a breath. Your chances of developing asthma are higher if a close relative has it or you have a history of sensitivity to environmental irritants. “People who had allergies as kids often develop asthma,” says Dr Karin Sloan, MD, a pulmonologist at Boston University School of Medicine.

Why asthma is on rise
There are few things in life that we take for granted—sunshine, change of seasons, and breath! Since the last two decades there has been a huge increase in number of asthma patients and deaths owing to this condition. This means that no longer we can remain carefree about our breath when seasons change. Dr R.K. Maini, Director Pulmonology with Artemis Hospital says, “Increase in number of asthma patients is possibly because people not only acknowledge their allergic problems but are ready to take treatment for this. Moreover, better diagnostic techniques and understanding of asthma enables a doctor to diagnose the problem too. Besides, we cannot rule out the lifestyle factors.”

Common types of asthma
• Allergic asthma – Caused by airway inflammation when exposed to allergens
• Exercised-induced asthma – Airways narrow when triggered by vigorous activity
• Cough-variant asthma – A chronic, persistent cough without shortness of breath
• Occupational asthma– Related to working in a particular occupational environment. Symptoms are more severe while at work during the exposure

A common ailment in children
Asthma is difficult to diagnose, especially in children.
According to Dr. Krishan Chugh, HOD, Paediatrics, Gangaram Hospital, “Around 15 per cent children in Delhi suffer from childhood asthma. Coughing after running or crying, recurrent night cough are other symptoms. Infants who have asthma often have a rattly cough, rapid breathing and may have an excessive number of “pneumonias,” episodes of bronchitis or “chest colds.” Obvious wheezing episodes might not be noted until after 18 to 24 months of age. In a young child the discomfort of chest tightness may lead to unexplained irritability. Since these symptoms can occur in other respiratory ailments other than asthma, it is advisable to consult your paediatrician to rule out these possibilities. And if your child is affirmed to be asthmatic, talk to your doctor to put together a written contingency plan that outlines how to handle an asthma attack. This will allow you, your child and your child’s teachers and coaches to know exactly what to do the next time your child feels congestion in the chest.

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