Asthma: Causes, Symptoms and Best Treatment (Ultimate Guide)
Do you know that according to an estimate by World Health Organisation 235 billion people have asthma in the world right now?
Is it something serious?
Asthma is a minor inconvenience for some people, where on the other hand it can impair day to day activities and even prove to be life threatening in serious cases.
In order to explore the treatment options and preventive measures, we need to know what asthma is actually.
Let us take a quick look at symptoms, causes and complications of asthma to choose a better way to deal with it.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is characterized by the narrowing or swelling of the airways or excessive mucus production which results in difficulty in breathing.
This can also result in coughing, shortness of breath, cold air, and wheezing on exhalation and often cause breathlessness.
However, severe asthmatic attacks can impose great danger to life.
This section discusses the basic information related to asthma before we dive into its symptoms and causes.
Some people also call it bronchial asthma whereas you will observe your doctor referring to it as chronic respiratory disease.
It can also result in difficulty while talking and impair your physical activity to some extent.
Asthma ICD 10
According to the 10th revision of the International Classification of diseases, the code for it is as following,
- J45 – Asthma
- J45.9 – Other and Unspecified Asthma
- J45.901 – Unspecified asthma with (acute) exacerbation
- J45.902 – Unspecified asthma with status asthmaticus
- J45.909 – Unspecified asthma, uncomplicatedJ45.90 – Unspecified Asthma
- J45.9 – Other and Unspecified Asthma
Eczema is also sometimes referred as skin asthma. It causes inflamed, reactive, and itchy skin.
It more commonly observed in children but can affect an individual at any age.
Types of Asthma
It varies widely in the way it occurs and for this reason, it occurs but the triggers are usually constant. It can affect people of different ages and may range from mild to severe symptoms.
1. Childhood Asthma
It is the most common chronic illness in children. However, it can affect you at any age but it is more prevalent in childhood than adulthood.
The triggers for childhood asthmatic conditions include,
- Respiratory infections
- Pet dander or dust mites
- Allergic reactions
- Air pollution
It is important to observe closely when a child starts developing asthmatic symptoms as it can be life-threatening.
However, for some people, the symptoms start to disappear as the child grows while for some the condition is lifelong.
Therefore, it is important to seek medical help while facing any of the symptoms related to it which will be discussed later in this article.
2. Adult-Onset Asthma
Its onset in adulthood is categorized as having more persistent symptoms than children.
The triggers of adult-onset are almost same as those of childhood asthma with additional factors of obesity and hormonal factors.
3. Occupational Asthma
This type is related to the allergens or irritants that exist in your workplace.
- Allergic. It is due to the presence of allergens in the environment you work in. Examples include hospitals, farms, bakeries and pet shops (pet dander), dust mites etc.
- Nonallergic. It is related to the irritants, which are different from allergens, that exist in your workplace. For instance, the profession related to it include car repair and manufacturing, metalwork, carpentry, hair salons, and indoor swimming pools etc.
The prevalence of the people getting affected by it is more if they already have a history of this condition or have allergic rhinitis.
4. Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA)
It is also referred as Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB) which affects breathing after a few minutes of performing physical activity.
Roughly 90% people with asthmatic symptoms have EIA but not all the people with EIA have other types of asthma.
What actually happens in asthma?
It is a condition in which the walls of your airway get swollen and the muscles constrict making it difficult to breathe.
If the asthmatic symptoms are identified prior to the emergency situation, it can be of great help.
In this section we will discuss the related asthmatic symptoms to avoid an emergency situation by identifying it beforehand.
Common Symptoms of Asthma
The most common symptoms include,
- Shortness of breath
- Cold air
- Whistling sounds while breathing
The other symptoms include,
- Blockage of the airway. During the normal procedure of breathing, the muscle relax allowing the entrance and exit of air from the lungs. However, during asthma, the muscle constricts and makes it extremely difficult to breathe.
- Swelling or inflammation. It causes swelling and inflammation in your lungs which can cause structural damage to it and treating it is an important part of the management of asthma. It can also result from a condition, cystic fibrosis.
- Airway irritability. It results in sensitivity of your air tract and the slightest encounter with irritants results in allergic reactions and narrowing of the air tubes of the lungs.
When should you seek medical help? Seek immediate medical help if you encounter any of the following symptoms,
- Increased breathing rate
- Pale or blue lips, face or fingernails
- Trouble breathing, walking or speaking
- The skin in your ribs area pulls inward on inhalation
- No difference in symptoms even after taking medicines
The Natural Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) classifies it on the basis of its severity for better diagnosis and treatment.
The classification is as follows,
- Intermittent. This is the most common type which does not involve much complications and occurs for less than two days a week.
- Mild persistent. In this type, the symptoms last for more than two days a week. Still however doesn’t show symptoms daily.
- Moderate persistent. In this type, the symptoms occur daily but not every night. However, they limit some daily activities.
- Severe persistent. This type is characterized by the symptoms appearing almost every day and most nights. Thus, hampering daily activities to a greater extent.
What is the cause it?
Researchers believe that there is no single cause of asthma. However, it occurs due to the presence of one or more triggers.
These triggers can result in asthmatic symptoms and cause more serious condition if you are not properly treated.
Without delaying it any further, let us just dive into the causes and risk factors related to it.
The factors included in causing the breathlessness include,
Previous family history of asthma increase the chances of developing it.
History of Viral Infections
Strong history of viral infections during childhood contributes to the chances of its development.
This hypothesis states that the lack of exposure to bacteria in early childhood results in weak immune system unable to fight with allergens.
Do you think you have asthma?
Consult a doctor as soon as possible because early intervention can save you from further damage.
The different diagnostic procedures available for it are discussed briefly in this section.
Let’s look at them quickly.
The diagnosis generally involves,
Brief Medical History of Patient
The genetic factor can be highly responsible for it. Therefore, inform your doctor of your previous family history.
Your doctor may examine your breathing using a stethoscope and look for symptoms of skin allergies as they increase the risk for developing asthmatic symptoms.
The breathing tests are used to check the amount of air inhaled and exhaled by your lungs.
These tests may include,
- Spirometry to simply measure the rate and amount of air blown out.
- Peak Flow to measure how well your lungs are exhaling the air.
- Methacholine challenge involves inhaling this chemical prior to spirometry to observe if it constricts your airways.
- Exhaled nitric oxide test involve breathing in a tube. The machine connected to this tube measures the levels of nitric oxide in your breath which is comparatively high in case of inflammation.
The other tests used in diagnosis of asthma are,
- Chest X-ray
- CT Scan
- Allergy tests
- Sputum eosinophils
These tests are very useful in the diagnosis and an early diagnosis helps in taking early precautions saving your lungs from further damage.
What are some of the possible treatment plans for asthma?
The treatment plan is devised by your pulmonologist based on your age, triggers and type of asthma.
However, it can not be cured but good diagnosis, treatment and psycho-education can result in better management.
Let us discuss in this section, the medical treatment for treating and preventing asthma.
Asthma action plan is usually divided into three categories as following,
1. Breathing Exercises
These exercise help in improving the amount of air inhaled and exhaled and improve your lung capacity over time which prevents you from severe symptoms related to it.
2. Instant Medicinal Treatment
It should only be used when you face symptoms not other than that. They provide quick relief for asthmatic symptoms.
- Bronchodilators works in minutes to relax your muscle and aid in respiration.
- First aid asthma treatment involves rescuing the person suffering asthmatic symptoms. Help them in maintaining the upright posture and aid them in providing an available inhaler or nebulizer. In case of symptoms still persisting after 20 minutes, call for medical help immediately.
3. Long Term Medication
The following asthma medication help in reducing its occurrence and severity. These are effective to treat asthma. However, they do not reduce asthmatic symptoms instantly.
Long-term medications to control the occurrence of its symptoms include,
- inhaled corticosteroids
- Long-acting bronchodilators
- Biologic therapy drugs
However, these asthma medications can cause certain side effects in the body.
However, the cause of asthma is not known but strategies for controlling certain risk factors can reduce the chances of getting frequent asthmatic attacks.
These strategies include the following,
- Avoid the diagnosed triggers. Avoid going into the environments with irritants that had induced asthmatic symptoms previously.
- Lessen the allergen exposure. Try to avoid the situations which involve your allergens for breathing issues.
- Allergy vaccine. Take shots for allergy as they may help in altering your immune system and reduce your sensitivity to the triggers.
- Medicines as prescribed. Take regularly the medicines prescribed by your doctor and keep emergency bronchodilators with you as well.
According to WHO, it is high time to take urgent action for it as the deaths caused by asthma will increase in next 1o years.
Although, only 10% of asthmatics develop severe asthma but lack of management can be a leading factor for it. So, proper prevention, diagnosis and treatment is fundamental to control its life-threatening effects.
Therefore, cosmetic procedures are frequently requested, to improve the aesthetics.
Hope you got answers to all your questions related to asthma. Let me know in the comments section below that which part proved to be the most helpful for you.
Your feedback and suggestions are appreciated.