Asthma: Early Signs, Treatment, and Prevention

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the airways. During an attack, the muscles around the airways (bronchospasm) tighten, generating thicker mucus that makes breathing difficult. The airways become inflamed and swollen.

There are two types of asthma, mild and severe asthma. Mild asthma is the most common. It’s characterized by swelling of the airways for several minutes to a few hours. It will go away after treatment, usually through oral salbutamol. Severe asthma attacks last longer. Most times, it will require emergency treatment.

There is no known cure for asthma but the condition can be managed using short-acting beta-2 agonist and oral corticosteroids. In severe cases, hospitalization is required. The patient will receive corticosteroids through an IV. Most health experts believe that genetics and environmental factors cause this disorder.

Symptoms and Treatments for Asthma

Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, and coughing. In severe asthma attacks, patients will exhibit blue lips and fingernails, anxiety, and difficulty in speaking. In such cases, call 911. Without treatment, breathing will become progressively worse until the patient can no longer speak. In extreme cases, patients need to be rushed to the intensive care unit for treatment.

Asthma attacks come and go. Sometimes, patients go on extended periods without an attack. Other times, sporadic attacks set in. There are cases when an attack happens after performing physical exertions like exercising.

The Importance of Early Detection

Asthma shouldn’t be ignored. Proper management is needed to keep the condition in control. While some dismiss asthma as just another pesky disorder, symptoms could be fatal. This is why early detection is important. Rather than waiting to see if your child has asthma, take him to the doctor for evaluation. You want to know if it’s mild or severe asthma. Treatments will vary between the two. Any delay could cause permanent damage to your child’s airways.

Even if symptoms were mild, learn ways to keep it in control to prevent severe episodes. Note that asthma symptoms will escalate rapidly especially if anxiety sets in.

Early signs of an attack include coughing at night, shortness of breath, and chronic fatigue. Sore throat, allergies, or symptoms similar to common cold also point to an asthma attack.

Remedy and Medication

There are three different forms of asthma medication: metered dose inhalers, dry powder, and nebulizers. Of all asthma medications, the metered dose inhaler is the most popular. It’s also easier to carry around. If you have asthma, carry an inhaler in your purse or bag.

An inhaler should always be around, especially when you have asthmatic children. It will help relieve mild symptoms. It also works to calm the patient so symptoms will not escalate. Allow the patient to administer the dosage using an inhaler and track the time.

During an attack, do not lie down. It will make the symptoms worse. Rather, sit up on a bed. Your upper body has to be elevated to assist in breathing.

Home remedies like drinking coffee or inhaling menthol vapors help soothe chest tightness and prevent panic. These are great for mild attacks. But in severe cases, always call for immediate medical assistance.