Asthma is a condition, in which a person’s airway becomes inflamed and they have trouble breathing as a result. The airway gets narrow and swells thus producing extra mucus. This condition is called Bronchial Asthma in medical terms. In an estimate, four out of every 100 adults suffer from this condition and it widely varies from countries. Vietnam records the low asthma rate followed by Austria and Sweden. According to the World health organization (WHO), India experiences about million asthma cases, where 15 percent are children. Thus three out of every 100 adults have asthma in India.
Classifications of Asthma
Asthma can be mild, need no medication, or very little care would be sufficient. But in some cases, it could be severe and life-threatening. Based on the frequency and severity of asthma medical professionals classify asthma into the following four types
Mild intermittent asthma: Here the symptoms are invisible or mild. You will have symptoms for two days in a week or two nights a month. But it won’t affect any of your daily activities.
Mild persistent asthma: The symptoms occur more than twice but not daily and may occur four nights a month.
Moderate persistent asthma: The symptom occurs daily on days but at least one night a week and affects your activities.
Severe persistent asthma: Here your daily activities are mostly limited, as the symptoms occur all days and nights.
Causes of Asthma
Not a single cause is directly related to asthma. But researchers believe some factors depend on your breathing conditions.
Genetics: If your parent or grandparents, your sibling have asthma you are more likely to get.
Viral infections: If you had a severe viral infection during your childhood, your probability of getting asthma will be high.
Hygiene hypothesis: Overprotection of babies affects their immunity. Babies should be exposed to bacteria at their younger age to strengthen their immune system. If not their system won’t have the ability to fight with asthma and other allergies.
Types of Asthma
There are many different types based on the symptoms. The common ones are,
● Bronchial asthma
● Childhood asthma
● Adult-onset asthma
It is the general type of asthma that causes shortness of breath and chest tightness. It is a chronic inflamed disease that affects airways and cause coughing and wheezing. Bronchial asthma is triggered by
● Smoking and second-hand smoke
● Infections caused by flu, pneumonia
● Food allergy
● Dust allergy
● Stress and anxiety
● Singing and laughing
● The smell of perfumes and fragrances
Childhood asthma is similar to that of adults, but there are more complications. Unfortunately, this type of asthma can’t be cured and will continue to adulthood. Symptoms will be bothersome even in doing their daily activities like playing, sleeping. For some children, undiagnosed asthma may lead to severe asthma attacks. Reasons for childhood asthma are
● Genetics- Parents with asthma
● The tendency to develop allergies
● A very young serious viral infection like pneumonia.
● Exposure to air pollution or cigarette smoke.
This type of asthma occurs when you reach adulthood. Common reasons are
● Workplace environment (like industrial chemicals, dust, animal proteins)
● Irritants like burning wood, perfumes, cigarette smokes
● Exercise-induced mostly after finishing the workout
There is not a particular test to identify asthma. Instead your doctor will do a range of tests to confirm.
Health history: It is important to notify your doctor if your family member has asthma.
Physical examination: Your doctor will examine your breathing pattern with a stethoscope. Also, check you have any skin issues like eczema, these skin allergies will increase your risk of asthma.
Pulmonary function test: PFT’s measure the airflow; in and out of your lungs. A device called spirometry is used, where you blow air and your pattern is recorded and analyzed.