Asthma is the most common chronic illness that has no definite cure to date. It affected around 262 million people and caused 461000 casualties in 2019. This condition affects the airways and causes wheezing or shortness of breath.
When a person suffers from an asthma attack, the air passage dilate, and the muscle around it tightens, making it difficult for air to flow in and out of the lungs.
This article deals with the causes, types, and trigger elements of asthma and how to keep it in control.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a long-term illness that severely affects the airways. It causes narrowing inside the lungs and inflammation, which hinders proper air supply.
A person having asthma may face:
- Persistent coughing
- Tightness in the chest area
- Intense mucus production
- Shortness of breath
An asthma attack arises only when symptoms get severe; the attack occurs suddenly and ranges from mild a life-threatening stage. In some patients, inflammation in the airways obstructs oxygen flow in the body and needs urgent care. A physician will offer some over-the-counter medicines and suitable treatment to control the symptoms.
Causes of Asthma
Doctors have not concluded yet on the causes of asthma. However, both environmental and genetic factors seem to play a crucial role.
There is evidence to back up and suggests that asthma does run in families. Children of asthmatic parents are at risk of developing asthma. Moreover, the risk is higher if the related person is exposed to asthma at an early age.
Air pollution is also a pivotal factor in developing asthma. Allergens both outside and inside of the house can trigger asthma.
Some indoor allergens include:
- Animal hair
- Paint and household cleaner fumes
Other factors include:
- Air pollution from vehicles and other industrial sources
- Ground-level ozone depletion
Almost 9.7% of females and 5.5% of males have asthma. However, symptoms do vary according to a female’s menstrual cycle and reproductive stage. For instance, during a female’s active reproductive years, symptoms may flick during the menstrual cycle compared with other times of the month. In medical terms, it is called premenstrual asthma. At the time of menopause, symptoms may improve.
Some scientists do believe hormonal activities might influence immune activity causing hypersensitive airways. Also, people suffering from intermittent asthma exhibit the same symptoms.
As per American Lungs Association, cigarette smoking triggers asthma. Asthma without smoking damages the lungs and increases the risk of developing certain tobacco-related lung issues, like chronic pulmonary lung disease.
Allergies occur when a body becomes hypersensitive to a certain element. Once the sensitization comes into the scene, the person becomes susceptible to an allergic reaction every time they contact that particular substance.
Not every asthma patient has an allergy, but often there is a connection. But people having allergic issues can experience symptoms when exposed to specific allergens.
Types of asthma
Asthma is very common in children. It can develop at any age, but it is more common in children than adults.
Around 9.7% of children aged between 5-14 years are most likely to develop asthma in 2017. In the same year, asthma affected only 7.7% of adults aged over 18 years.
Many things can flick symptoms in children, some triggers of childhood asthma include:
- Smoking cigarettes even second-hand smoke
- Exposure to cold air
- Temperature changes
- Respiratory infections due to cold
- Air pollutants
Always consult a doctor if a child is under asthmatic symptoms, as it can be life-threatening. Seek help from primary care at the time of emergency.
Asthma can develop at any stage of life. According to a study, adults are more likely to have persistent symptoms than children.
Some factors that increase the chances of developing adult-onset asthma are:
- Respiratory issues
- Smoking tobacco
- Hormonal conditions
Occupational asthma generally occurs due to exposure to irritants present in the workplace.
In the following work environment, allergens can trigger asthma:
- Laboratories, zoo and pet shops, where animals co-exist
- Flour mills, bakeries, and large kitchens
Other occupations that can trigger asthma are:
- Indoor swimming pools
- Metalwork and engineering
- Car repairing
- Electronics assembly industries
Some research states that almost 5-10% of people with asthma have chronic asthma. Sometimes the severity of symptoms is not directly related to asthma. For example, they may not have followed the treatment regime correctly.
People who have refractory asthma are in life-threatening zones. In this case, the asthma symptoms do not respond to treatment, even with higher dosages and inhalers.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that can be controlled but not cured. It can affect every age group, and the symptoms range from mild to severe. Asthma is also a key risk factor of COPD, especially in patients who have had severe asthma since childhood.