If you have asthma, you’re not alone. In India alone, about 34.3 million cases of asthma are reported, and about 13.2 thousand deaths in India were due to asthma.
Asthma is long-term chronic (long-standing) lung disease that makes breathing difficult. This happens when one’s airways swell up and become narrow, and may produce extra mucus. All these changes cause wheezing and a difficulty to breathe.
Apart from breathing difficulties, this condition can trigger coughing, wheezing (a whistling sound while exhaling) and shortness of breath.
Other signs include:
Depending on the severity of the asthma attack, it can be categorised as:
- Intermittent (where asthma symptoms come and go)
- Persistent (where asthma symptoms stay most of the time)
Depending on its onset in life, it can be:
- Paediatric (before age 5)
- Adult-onset (after 18)
For some, asthma can be triggered by certain situations.
- Exercise-induced asthma: Asthma may be triggered due to prolonged or strenuous exercise. The air and moisture around your nose can also affect this type of asthma.
- Occupation-induced asthma: Your occupation could trigger asthma, when you have to work with chemicals or dust.
Depending on the cause, asthma can be of 3 types broadly:
- Allergic asthma: Different allergies could trigger asthma, such as pollen, mold, or pet dander.
- Non-allergic asthma: The reasons for non-allergic asthma are not very well understood.
- Cough-variant asthma: People with this type of asthma often have a dry, non-productive cough (no mucus is produced). They do not experience any other common asthma symptoms, except coughing.
Any previous allergies, other respiratory disorders, environmental factors and genetics are said to play a role in the asthma occurrence.
Diagnosis & treatment
With careful observation of your symptoms, previous allergies and health history in general; your healthcare provider may order for blood tests, skin tests, chest X-ray or spirometry to diagnose the cause of asthma.
Treatment usually includes a combination of medicines, inhalers, or therapies that relax your airways, reduce your respiratory secretions, and ease your asthma symptoms.
- Saffron A.G. Willis-Owen, William O.C. Cookson, and Miriam F. Moffatt. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics 2018 19:1, 223-246
- Cleveland. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/6424-asthma Accessed on 28-03-2022
- Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369660 Accessed on 28-03-2022
- MedlinePlus.gov. https://medlineplus.gov/asthma.html Accessed on 28-03-2022
- American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma Accessed on 28-03-2022