Asthma cannot be ignored, nor can it be taken lightly. It is a condition where there are inflammation and swelling in the airways that lead to the lungs. When asthma flares up, it causes the airways to narrow and tighten. This makes it difficult for the air to pass through, thereby causing difficulty in breathing. Such a situation also leads to asthma attacks or exacerbation (sudden worsening of asthma condition or COPD).
To know more, read the common causes of asthma:
Asthma affects people in different ways. Some people experience asthma attacks only in peak allergy season or when they experience cold air. It may happen when they exercise as well. At times it may so happen that the attacks may be severe, and they must rush to a doctor often.
Symptoms of asthma can be mild or severe. You may experience a mild attack daily or even severe symptoms each day. Or you may have something in between. Also, how often you suffer from these symptoms may change. This is because when you have asthma, you may experience:
- Wheeze, making a loud or soft whistling noise when you breathe in and out.
- Bouts of cough.
- Feel tightness in your chest.
- Feel short of breath.
- Sleepless or erratically because of coughing or trouble in breathing.
- Feeling tired easily during exercise.
Asthma symptoms can aggravate at night. Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening and need emergency treatment.
What are the Causes of Asthma?
The causes of asthma are many; they can be intrinsic and extrinsic.
Extrinsic (external) factors include:
Allergies (allergens) are common in children and adults and are a common cause of asthma. Some examples of allergens include inhaled materials, ingested materials (e.g. foods), and materials that cause problems when they contact the skin. Most commonly, asthma attacks are triggered when one inhales the allergens.
Occupational asthma is real, and it occurs in 10% of asthma patients when they are exposed to gases, fumes, dusts and even vapors that are present in their place of work.
Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the common causes of asthma in sensitive patients. Such a problem develops over a period due to aspirin sensitivity, asthma, and nasal polyps.
Intrinsic (internal) factors include:
Commonly, problems like viral infections and respiratory infections aggravate asthma.
An asthma attack can be induced during exercise and is known as EIA or exercise-induced asthma. This happens as there is an increase in respiratory rate and the depth of breathing, as well as an increase in inhalation of the air present in the atmosphere. This air may be cooler than the body temperature air in the lungs. This cooler air triggers the lung receptors in patients susceptible to asthma or bronchospasm.
Asthma can be genetic too. The ADAM-33 gene set is known to be associated with this health condition and is known as the asthma gene. Currently, four different asthma genes have been identified.
Emotional factors and stress have been suspected to cause asthma, but the data to support this is not complete.
Asthma should never stop you from doing the things you want to do. It is important to work with your doctor/provider and follow your care plan, so you can enjoy the benefits of exercise without asthma symptoms.