Asthma

by Allergy Guy

Asthma is a chronic disease  where the lung airways (bronchi) are inflamed.  This causes the airways to narrow.  An asthma attack is a when the symptoms become much worse, the smooth muscle cells in the airways constrict and are swollen, and breathing is difficult.

Asthma is similar to several other inflammatory diseases of the lung, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

The inflammation in asthma is reversible, where as with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic bronchitis, inflammation is not considered reversible.

Asthma effects the bronchi, where as with emphysema it is the alveoli which are affected.

Anyone can get asthma at any age, although most people with it are afflicted early in life.

Asthma Symptoms

Typical asthma symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing

These symptoms vary widely from person to person and episode to episode.  Symptoms can vary from mild through severe.  Asthma symptoms may be problematic for some length of time, then vanish for an extended time.  Or they may be persistent and continually troublesome.

Managing Asthma Symptoms

There is no know cure for Asthma.  It can be managed by avoiding the triggers that set it off, and by reducing symptoms when they occur.

Allergies are a major class of trigger for asthma symptoms.  They tend to set off inflammation.

Other triggers, such as smoke, exercise and cold air, make symptoms worse, especially if lung airways are already inflamed.

Symptoms are also managed with medications, especially in severe cases.

Asthma Treatment

Treatment is individual to the patient.  Patients must work with their doctor to plan treatment that matches the patient in a variety of situations.

Wheezing and shortness of breath is usually treated with fast-acting bronchodilators, usually administered with pocket-sized, metered-dose inhalers (MDIs).  Spacers or nebulizers may also be used, especially for patients that have difficulty using an inhaler.

Other medications include:

  • Selective beta2-adrenoceptor agonists such as salbutamol (albuterol USAN), levalbuterol, terbutaline and bitolterol.  These agents may cause side effects, especially tremors.  Side effects are reduced when inhaled rather than ingested or injected.
  • Less selective adrenergic agonists, such as inhaled epinephrine and ephedrine tablets.  Cardiac side effects can be a problem.
  • Anticholinergic medications, such as ipratropium bromide are effective, but less so than ?2-adrenoreceptor agonists.  Side effects are much less than the above alternatives.

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Allergy Guy September 12, 2014 at 20:17

Kayla asked (on another unrelated post): “what foods are good to eat if you have asthma?” See my answer below.

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2 Allergy Guy September 12, 2014 at 20:23

I don’t know if specific foods are good for asthma. There may be such foods, but I’m not an asthma expert. If you find anything, let me know and I’ll write a post about it.

I can tell you that many people find gluten to be bad for asthma, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that cutting out gluten reduces or eliminates symptoms of asthma for many people. See Wheat, Gluten and Asthma to find out more. And of course you should eat a healthy diet to support your general health.

If I have more specific ideas I’ll add them here or write an article about it. If anyone else has some ideas, feel free to post them here.

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3 Acugirl May 9, 2013 at 10:19

Hello Allergy Guy
Thank you so much for all of your helpful information. I was just checking out your asthma section and wondering if you had ever considered mentioning ACUPUNCTURE as an option for asthma treatment. (seasonal allergies as well) It can work wonders. =)
In service,
Acugirl

Reply

4 Allergy Guy May 9, 2013 at 20:16

Good idea!

I’ll tell you what, Acugirl, if you are willing to write a comment of 200 words + about acupuncture and asthma, I’ll transfer it to it’s very own article! I don’t really know much about it and don’t have time to do the research right now, but I would love to publish an article about it.

Just go ahead and type out your article in a comment if you want. Do be informative, please do not promote any products or services.

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