Asthma – Symptoms and Treatments – keep healthy

Asthma – Symptoms and Treatments

  • Author David Pouliot
  • Published July 14, 2012
  • Word count 509

Asthma is a chronic disorder related to the respiratory system which leads to inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Asthma causes constriction and inflammation of the air passage, thus making it difficult to breath. Causes for asthma are associated with chemical, genetic and environmental factors. Some common factors which trigger asthma include infections like flu and colds, food allergies, pollen, dust mites, allergies to certain drugs, and irritants like dust and cigarette smoke. Whenever someone is exposed to these triggering factors, their body releases histamine as well as other agents. This leads to inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which in turn causes narrowing and clogging of the air passages. This leads to symptoms which include wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing.

Some Indications of Asthma Attacks:

During a severe asthmatic attack, a series of changes occur in the lungs as well as air passages which contribute to developing the symptoms of asthma attacks. Inflammation, excessive mucus production and bronchospasm can cause different symptoms of asthma attacks which comprise of wheezing, coughing and breathlessness. Symptoms of asthma attacks could vary in duration and severity. Early symptoms of asthma attacks include headaches, an itchy throat, chronic cough, wheezing, difficulty in talking and breathing, chest tightness and a disturbed sleeping pattern. Wheezing is one of the most frequently observed symptoms of asthma attacks. A mild asthma attack is common and is curable within a couple of hours of treatment.

A severe asthma attack is not very frequent. However, it could last longer as well as need urgent medical attention. The symptoms of severe asthma attacks occur gradually and could turn worse in 6 – 48 hours. Some symptoms that indicate the worsening of asthma attacks include fatigue, low peak expiratory flow rate, restlessness, increased wheezing and an increased pulse rate.

In severe cases of asthma attacks, patients could experience life-threatening symptoms such as nasal flaring, pain in the chest, breathlessness, difficulty in talking, sweating, and an increased pulse and heartbeat. A very severe asthma attack may also result in respiratory arrest or perhaps death. An asthma attack is regarded as a medical emergency and needs urgent medical attention.

Treatment for Asthma Attacks:

Asthma attacks symptoms might appear similar to other respiratory disorders including bronchitis, emphysema and respiratory tract infections. Therefore, an exact diagnosis of asthma is necessary, to decide on the treatment option. The severity of asthma symptoms can be monitored with pulmonary function tests such as nitric oxide measurement, peak flow reading, spirometry and pulse oximetry. Asthma treatment is focused on managing the symptoms, and maintaining the proper functioning of the lungs as well as preventing a severe asthma attack. Oral corticosteroids, methylxanthines, leukotriene inhibitors such as montelukast and zileuton, and short-acting beta agonists could be used to lower the inflammation caused during an acute asthma attack. The use of HFA (hydrofluoroalkane) inhalers helps to control breathlessness. In case of life threatening symptoms, mechanical ventilation and intubation are important to help in breathing.

Medications like Ventolin inhaler have proved quite effective for asthma patients. Ventolin inhaler belongs to a category of drugs called beta-agonists.