What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory disease in which the
airways become sensitive to allergens (any substance
that triggers an allergic reaction). Several things
happen to the airways when exposed to certain triggers:
- The lining of the airways become swollen and inflamed.
All of these factors will cause the airways to narrow
- thus, making it difficult for air to go in and out of
the lungs, causing the symptoms of asthma.
- The muscles that surround the airways tighten.
- The production of mucus in increased, leading to mucus
are the symptoms of asthma?
The following are the most common symptoms of asthma.
However, each person may experience symptoms differently.
Symptoms may include:
- coughing (either constant or intermittently)
- wheezing (this is a whistling sound that may be heard
- trouble breathing or shortness of breath while exercising
- chest tightness
- nighttime cough
- noisy breathing
The symptoms of asthma may resemble
other problems or medical conditions. Always consult
your physician for a diagnosis.
What causes asthma?
The exact cause of asthma is not completely known. It
is believed to be partially inherited, but it also involves
many other environmental, infectious, and chemical factors.
After a person is exposed to a certain trigger, the
body releases histamine and other agents that can cause
inflammation in the airways. The body also releases
other factors that can cause the muscles of the airways
to tighten, or become smaller. There is also an increase
in mucus production that may clog the airways. The changes
that occur in asthma are believed to happen in two phases:
- An immediate response to the trigger leads to swelling
and narrowing of the airways. This makes it initially
difficult for a person to breathe.
Asthma in pregnancy:
- A later response, which can happen four to eight hours
after the initial exposure to the allergen, leads to
further inflammation of the airways and obstruction
Asthma is a common respiratory complication occurring
in about 1 percent of pregnant women. It is interesting
that asthma may improve with pregnancy in some cases,
while in others, the disease is worsened. This may also
vary from one pregnancy to the next in the same woman.
Asthma attacks are more likely with respiratory infections
and when the medication regimen is not closely followed.
There may be some risk for poor fetal growth and for preterm
birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).
management in pregnancy:
The goals of managing asthma in pregnancy are to:
- provide the mother and fetus with oxygen.
Management of asthma is a cooperative effort between the
woman, her physicians, and her family. Management of asthma
- prevent asthma attacks.
- prevention-avoidance of triggers to which women are
sensitive, especially environmental triggers such as
cigarette smoke. Careful allergen control can also help,
such as dust control, especially in the bedroom.
- medications, which may include the following:
* bronchodilators-which help open the narrowed airways.
* cromolyn sodium-a preventive medication that helps
prevent the mast cells from
releasing histamine which causes allergic symptoms.
* corticosteroids - acts as an anti-inflammatory agent
to help prevent attacks for patients with persistent
asthma and prevent symptoms on a long-term basis.
According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), women with chronic lung
disease should receive a flu vaccine before flu season
starts. The vaccine is safe to take during pregnancy.
Severe asthma that does not respond to treatment may
develop into respiratory failure. Mechanical breathing
machines may be necessary.
Management and Treatment of Asthma
Treatment for asthma:
Specific treatments for asthma will be determined
by your child's physician based on:
- your child's age, overall health, and medical history
As of yet, there is no cure for asthma. However, asthma
can often be controlled with prescription medications
that may help to prevent or relieve symptoms and by learning
ways to manage episodes.
- extent of the disease
- your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures,
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
Children with asthma can learn to identify and avoid the
things that trigger an episode, and educate themselves
about medications and other asthma management strategies.
Asthma is a chronic disease. It has to be cared for all
the time _ just when symptoms are present.
four parts of continually managing asthma are:
- Identify and minimize contact with asthma triggers.
- Understand and take medications as prescribed.
- Monitor asthma to recognize signs when it is getting
- Know what to do when asthma gets worse.
Work with a healthcare professional to determine the
best way to take care of your child's asthma.
The more information a person with asthma has, the better
asthma can be controlled.
Four components of asthma treatment:
- The use of objective measures of lung function _rometry,
oximeters, peak flow expiratory flow rate _access the
severity of asthma, and to monitor the course of treatment.
- The use of medication therapy designed to reverse
and prevent the airway inflammation component of asthma,
as well as to treat the narrowing airway.
- The use of environmental control measures to avoid
or eliminate factors that induce or trigger asthma flare-ups,
including the consideration of immunotherapy.
- Patient education that includes a partnership among
the child, family members, and the child's physician.