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What Is Asthma? Health Tips

Asthma is a respiratory condition which quite often starts in childhood and can remain with you for the rest of your life. Asthma is found in both children and adults and develops when the bronchial tubes or airways become inflamed. In the U.K alone, over 5 million people are treated each year. This accounts for 1 in 12 adults and 1 in 11 children. Asthma also occurs more often in women than in men.

The airways of the body (bronchi) are connected to the lungs and when these become inflamed, breathing becomes difficult and there is a shortness of breath due to the lungs not receiving sufficient oxygen flow. During Asthma attacks, an over production of Mucus (Phlegm) can also occur which also has an effect on the air flow in and out of the lungs.

What are the Symptoms of Asthma? 

There are a number of common symptoms that are experienced by Asthma sufferers including consistent coughing, wheezing or whistling sound when breathing, chest pains, tightening of the chest, shortness of breath, mucus, sore throat, fatigue and a rapid heart beat.

What are the Main Causes and Triggers of Asthma? 

It is not really known exactly what causes Asthma, but there are many known factors or triggers that are thought to have a big influence. Things that can contribute to Asthma include respiratory infections at a young age, airborne allergens and chemicals, dust mites, environmental pollution, allergic reactions, pollen, strong odours and irritant fumes such as second-hand cigarette smoke and perfume. Other triggers include cold air, chest infection, physical exercise and emotional factors including stress, anxiety and even laughing.

How is Asthma Treated and is There a Cure? 

Although there is no known cure for Asthma, it can be treated effectively in order to produce Bronchodilation (expansion of the airways), which helps to bring it under control and ease the discomfort of the patient.

The most effective form of treatment is medicine which is administered via an inhaler. An inhaler is very effective as it helps to get the medicine directly into the lungs which helps to alleviate the symptoms quickly and effectively.

There are two main types of inhaler including Reliever Inhalers which are used to relieve Asthma symptoms quickly. Reliever inhalers are usually blue in colour and contain a medicine called beta2-agonist.

The other form of inhaler is the Preventer inhaler which is usually brown, orange or red in colour. Preventer inhalers contain corticosteroid and are used over time to prevent the onset of Asthma symptoms as the name would suggest.

A spacer may also be prescribed by a doctor which is a large plastic container with a mouth piece at one end and a slot for the inhaler at the other. Spacers generally help to facilitate the distribution of the medication to the lungs and are most commonly used by young children under 3 years of age.

How Can You Alleviate the Symptoms of Asthma? 

Unfortunately, modern living tends to put us in the way of all kinds of factors that can trigger Asthma. In order to reduce the symptoms of Asthma it is important to be aware of your environmental surroundings, the cleanliness of your home and reduce your exposure to household irritants such as smoke and cleaning products that contain harmful chemicals.

As dust mites can be a cause of Asthma it is important to vacuum your home weekly as well as cleaning your bedding on a regular basis to kill the dust mites. Dust covers can also be used for bedding which prevents dust mites from entering.

Asthma sufferers are also advised to stay away from Smokey environments and use as few household cleaning products as possible, especially perfumed products which tend to be a trigger for Asthma.

Is There a Diet For Asthma? 

Although there is no evidence that any foods in our diet can be attributed to helping to relieve Bronchial inflammation, it is still important to maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Asthma sufferers who are obese generally suffer with more severe forms of Asthma. So regular exercise and a healthy diet are highly recommended.

For further extensive information on Asthma including videos, please refer to the NHS Asthma website.

Images courtesy of gnu2000 and indigo_jones on Flickr.