Categories: Pulmonology

Diagnosis, Treatment, and Steps on How to Control Asthma Attacks

Asthma is a condition that results in the narrowing and swelling of the airways. Due to obstruction in the airways, the right amount of oxygen is not delivered to the lungs, which causes breathlessness.

There are different types of asthma, ranging from bronchial asthma, allergic asthma, non-allergic asthma, occupational asthma, or cough-variant asthma. There exist additional two forms of asthma, childhood asthma, and adult-onset asthma.

What are the Symptoms of Asthma?

Asthma is an inflammatory disease obstructing the air leading to difficulty in breathing or performing some physical activities. Symptoms of asthma in children are similar to symptoms in adults. One of the most common symptoms of asthma is wheezing, a whistling sound made while breathing. Some of the other symptoms are:

  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest
  • Coughing (persistent cough)
  • fatigue

What Causes Asthma?

Various factors are responsible for causing asthma. It may be genetic or hereditary, which is passed on from the higher generation to the next generations, or maybe due to a history of severe chronic viral infections. Apart from these, another cause may be hygiene, considering that the child is exposed to bacterias at an early age.

Is Asthma Curable?

Asthma is a highly treatable disease, but there is no permanent cure for asthma at present. Though asthma is a lifelong condition, it is possible to live a healthy life. Using effective treatments and lifestyle changes, you can reduce the symptoms of asthma. Many doctors claim that the treatments used for asthma are effective, and some people have near-complete control of the symptoms.

Managing Asthma

Once you have been diagnosed with asthma, following the medication cycles and managing your asthma is crucial. The symptoms and severity of asthma are bound to change. Actively managing asthma treatment will not only help you to prevent asthma attacks but also help you to maintain better long term asthma control. For this, maintaining a record of the treatment would help.

  • Track your symptoms:

Create a written plan with the help of your doctor. Note down your symptoms in a diary every day. Record at which time do you need an inhaler and the number of puffs. Write if you come across any changes in the symptoms like the colour of phlegm, triggers that may flare up asthma.

  • Record the well-being of your lungs:

Routine checks of your lungs can be done by taking two breathing tests. Periodical testing and keeping a record will definitely help you to control asthma.

  1. Peak flow: This machine helps you to measure how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. This can help you track how best your lungs are functioning.
  2. Spirometry test: the spirometer machine helps you to test the capability of your lungs to hold air for maximum time.
  • Adjust the treatment according to the asthma action plan:

Keeping track of the symptoms, routine tests, effects of asthma on your daily activities will help to make decisions regarding the change in treatment. The chart might be helpful for you to determine if your asthma is under control. You can sit down with your doctor and make necessary changes in your treatment, depending on if the asthma control falls on the chart.

Asthma Diagnosis

There isn’t just one test that will determine if a child or adult has asthma. There are a variety of criteria that can decide if the symptoms result in asthma.

  • Health history
  • Breathing tests
  • Physical examinations

Asthma Treatment

Though there are medicines in pill form, most of the asthma medicines are taken by breathing in using inhalers or nebulizers. The inhalers are the best primary treatment for an asthma attack as the medicine goes directly into the Airways.

The best treatment for asthma depends on the symptoms and severity. There are two main types of treatments for asthma, Quick-relief asthma treatments, or long-term medications given according to the severity of asthma. Quick relief-asthma medicines are short term medication for symptoms like shortness of breath, tightening of the chest, or wheezing, whereas long term medications are given to prevent a future attack.

  1. Quick-relief treatments like bronchodilators or nebulizers are given as a first-aid treatment to relax the tightened muscles around your airways for instant breathing. Examples of some quick-relief asthma medicines are Albuterol, Terbutaline, and Levalbuterol.
  2. Long term medications like anti-inflammatories, anticholinergics, or biological therapy drugs are prescribed to consume daily to reduce the symptoms and severity of asthma. Oral steroids are given for a small period when symptoms does not improve with regular medication. (Prednisone, Prednisolone, or Methylprednisolone).

Prevention of Asthma

Asthma is triggered usually by allergens that our body mistakes a substance like pollen or smoke as dangerous. The best way to prevent asthma attacks is to keep track of the common allergens. Keeping a distance from the triggers from your routine life will help to limit asthma attacks. For this, you can try the following ways:

  • Regular cleaning up the house to keep the dust and moulds off.
  • If you are a smoker, quit smoking or avoid passive smoking.
  • Avoid exposure to pollen and pet hair.
  • Take precautions during extreme weather change.
  • Avoid burning an incense stick or wood.

Precautions and Lifestyle Changes

There is no cure for asthma at the moment, but taking all necessary measures to reduce asthma symptoms is something that you can do on a primary level. Consult a doctor immediately if you are facing even the slightest sign of asthma.

Home Remedies for Asthma Attack

Not much research and information are available on the remedies to cure asthma. So there aren’t any sure shot home remedies on how to cure asthma, but you can use any of these complementary treatments along with the prescribed medicines to suppress asthma attacks.

  1. Change in dietFood allergies can worsen asthma symptoms. Thus, having track of such food items is a must. Being overweight can also worsen asthma. Consuming fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and E may help to reduce inflammation around the airways.
  2. Caffeinated tea or coffee: Caffeinated tea or coffee contain caffeine, a bronchodilator responsible for respiratory muscle fatigue. It helps to improve the function of the airways up to a limited time after consumption.
  3. Breathing exercise and yoga: Breathing techniques and yoga reduce the frequency of attacks. Slow and gentle breathing helps to reduce the symptoms of asthma as it raises carbon dioxide levels in the body. Yoga, on the other hand, helps you with flexibility, thereby reducing the stress that can trigger asthma.
  4. Lavender oil: Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation from allergies and help people with asthma.
  5. Garlic and ginger: Asthma being an anti-inflammatory disease, can be relieved by having garlic or ginger. Garlic and ginger contain anti-inflammatory properties which subside the symptoms causing asthma.
  6. Honey: Honey is also used for cold remedies to soothe the throat and reduce cough. To relieve the symptoms of asthma, consuming honey with hot water is highly recommended.

These natural remedies are known to reduce symptoms and asthma attacks. Additionally, many of these remedies have limited to no evidence of asthma treatment. Breathing techniques and yoga reduce the frequency of attacks. Slow and gentle breathing helps to reduce the symptoms of asthma as it raises carbon dioxide levels in the body. Yoga, on the other hand, helps you with flexibility, thereby reducing the stress that can trigger asthma.

Conclusion

Having a healthy lifestyle and taking medications prescribed by your doctor, avoiding allergens, and meditating can help you to improve the quality of life.

Dr. Ajaykumar B, Consultant – PulmonologistSahyadri Narayana Multispecialty Hospital, Shimoga

Narayana Health

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