What is Asthma?


Hello, in this HealthSketch, we’d like to
talk to you about Asthma, a common condition that affects the airways and causes episodes of breathing difficulty. Asthma affects around 5% of the global population,
and it is becoming more common worldwide. It often begins in childhood but also affects
adults. We don’t fully understand what causes asthma, but it seems that both genetics and the surrounding environment are involved. But what exactly is asthma? Asthma affects the airways, the small tubes
which transport air in and out of the lungs. Asthma occurs when the airways are more sensitive
to certain triggers, so that from time to time they become narrow, inflamed and swollen,
and more sticky mucous is produced. All of these changes reduce the flow of air,
which leads to some or all of the following symptoms: coughing, breathlessness, tightness
across the chest, and wheezing (which is a whistling noise when breathing). Depending on the severity, these symptoms
might occur every day or only on occasion. A sudden worsening of symptoms is called an
‘asthma attack’. and this can even be fatal if not promptly treated. This is why it’s important to see a doctor
if you think you might have asthma. Some other conditions may also cause similar
breathing problems, but a doctor will be able to diagnose asthma based on your history of symptoms, and through breathing tests, which are used to support diagnosis, determine severity, and monitor treatment response over time. Inhalers are the main treatment for asthma, as they deliver medication directly to your airways, helping them to expand. There are two main types of inhalers Preventer inhalers, which you take every day to help prevent symptoms from occurring over the long term and Reliever inhalers, which you use to immediately relieve symptoms as and when needed. Combination inhalers combine both types. A nurse or doctor can show you the right inhaler
technique, which is important to make sure the medicine actually reaches the airways. They can also help you decide which type of
inhaler device will work best for you. Apart from inhalers, another key step is to
avoid the things that trigger your symptoms. These will vary from person to person, but
might include: cold weather, cigarette smoke, pollution, pollen, dust and mould, animal
fur, chemicals and fumes, stress and anxiety, strenuous exercise, and infections like common colds or flu. Some of these triggers are unavoidable, which is why you should always carry a reliever inhaler with you. It’s also important to monitor your symptoms
over time. If you notice that symptoms are happening
more frequently, arrange to see your doctor at the earliest opportunity, as you may need
to be stepped up onto higher doses or other medications, including oral tablets. Also, remember that if an asthma attack gets worse, and your inhaler doesn’t seem to be helping, you must seek immediate medical
attention, as stronger medications may need to be given in hospital. While there is currently no cure for asthma, treatment is usually very effective for controlling symptoms. These symptoms may lessen over time or even
disappear for long periods, particularly in people with mild asthma, while in others, symptoms will be more severe and long-lasting. But in all cases, simple steps can make a
big difference, such as: Stopping smoking. Identifying and avoiding possible triggers. Keeping fit and healthy. Taking medication correctly and as prescribed,
and keeping a reliever inhaler with you at all times Getting a flu vaccine every year Keeping track of symptoms,
And having regular asthma check-ups with a nurse or doctor. Through these steps, most people with asthma
will be able to manage their condition, and lead normal and healthy lives. In this HealthSketch we’ve talked about
the common breathing condition, asthma. We’ve described what happens to the airways, the triggers that bring it on, how it is diagnosed and treated and how you can stay on top of
it. We hope this HealthSketch has been useful for you and those around you. HealthSketch. Health for all to see.