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Asthma: Exploring Causes, Types and Other Relevant Information

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Asthma: Exploring Causes, Types and Other Relevant Information


Asthma is a chronic health condition that affects one’s air pipe. It not only causes wheezing but also makes breathing difficult. Health Screening Clinic is a reputed private practice at Harley Street in London that offers comprehensive health screenings and private medical checkups. Highly trained and skilled doctors associated with it explain that factors that trigger asthma include exposure to an allergen, microbe, havoc emotional stress, exercise and physical exhaustion.

The inner walls of the airways or bronchial tubes become inflamed and swollen because of asthma. Asthmatic patients have their airways swelled with the muscles tightening around the airways. Thus, air cannot move in or out of the lungs and breathing becomes difficult.

According to surveys, the number of asthma patients is steadily rising across the UK. In this circumstance, let us explore this chronic health condition in greater detail.


Asthma – what it is


As mentioned before, asthma is a long-term health condition that affects the bronchial pipes or airways. As a result of asthmatic conditions, the bronchial pipe inflames and narrows down inside the lungs. Thus, you can suffer from limited air supply into the lungs. Typical symptoms include the following:


• Wheezing.
• Coughing.
• Breathlessness.
• Tightness in the chest.
• Increased production of mucus.


An asthma attack may begin suddenly and in extreme cases may prove to be life-threatening. In certain cases, asthma may prevent oxygen from entering into the bloodstream to reach the vital organs in the body. Therefore, people with severe symptoms must be provided with urgent medical care and attention.


These days, there are effective treatments and well-defined procedures to control the symptoms related to asthma.


Asthma types


Asthma can develop because of many reasons and in different ways. Different agents that contribute to the development of this particular medical condition include mold, pet dander, cigarette smoke and of course airborne pollutants and microbes.


Childhood asthma

Asthma is one of the commonest chronic conditions that affect children. One can develop it at any age but children succumb to this medical condition more easily than adults. Some of the common factors responsible for childhood asthma include the following:


• Exposure to allergens.
• Colds and respiratory infections.
• Cigarette smoking including passive smoking.
• Exposure to chilly air.
• Various air pollutants.
• Drastic drops in temperature.
• Excitement.
• Stress.
• Physical strain and exercise.

A child must be given medical attention whenever he or she starts developing asthma. An experienced doctor is the best option to get advice from to keep the chronic condition under control. In many cases, it is seen that the child completely recovers from asthma on reaching adulthood. However, for many, it continues for life and becomes a permanent medical condition.


Adult-onset asthma

One may develop asthma at any age even during adulthood. Asthma developing in adulthood is often found to be triggered by certain factors like:


• Respiratory illnesses.
• Obesity.
• Hormonal imbalance in the body.
• Allergies.
• Exposure to allergens.
• Smoking.
• Stress.


Occupation-related asthma

Also known as occupational asthma, this triggers because of exposure to allergens or irritants that exist at one’s workplace. The workplaces that are related to occupational asthma include:


• Kitchens, bakeries and flour mills.
• Healthcare practices and hospitals.
• Zoos, pet shops and labs where animals are kept.
• Farms and places where agriculture is done.
People, who are at high risk to develop this condition include:
• Those suffering from allergic rhinitis.
• Smokers.
• Experience environmental allergies.
• Have an asthmatic history.


An individual’s work environment may bring back the problem of childhood asthma.


Severe asthma conditions those are difficult to manage

Some people show severe asthmatic symptoms because of reasons that are not related to asthma. For example, a certain percentage of asthma patients do not know the correct usage of inhalers and thus, they show severe symptoms.

On the other hand, many patients in this category suffer from severe refractory asthma. In simpler words, their asthma does not respond to treatment, even when using high dosage of medications.


Eosinophilic asthma

Eosinophilic asthma is another type of asthma. At more severe levels, this type of asthma may not respond to usual treatment and medications. Such cases are dealt with ‘biologic’ therapies.


Seasonal asthma

This type of asthmatic attack occurs in response to allergens present in the surrounding environment at a particular time of the year. Pollen grains suspended in the air during spring and summers are responsible for this kind of asthma. Patients of seasonal asthma suffer from their health condition round the year though they are not likely to show any symptoms.


Factors that trigger asthma

The exact cause of developing asthma is yet to be explored although it has been seen that gene and environmental factors play vital roles in this context.


Pregnancy-related asthma

The study reveals that smoking during pregnancy raises the chance of the fetus developing asthma later on. A section of pregnant women also suffers from severe asthmatic symptoms compared to others.


Obesity

Obese people are more likely to suffer from asthma than the rest. Study also shows that obese people who lose weight experience automatic improvements in their asthma symptoms.

Allergies

When an individual’s body turns sensitised to a specific substance or substances, the person is said to be allergic to those substances. Once the sensitisation occurs, the individual succumbs to an allergic reaction every time he/she comes in contact with that substance. However, it is important to clarify one thing; it is not mandatory that every individual with asthma has an allergy although the link is found more frequently than not.


Smoking habits

Smoking is also known to trigger asthma although asthma without smoking also damages the lungs. A habitual smoker is prone to develop a range of lung conditions related to tobacco that can make his or her asthma symptoms more severe.

Environmental factors

Air pollution both indoors and outdoors is known to trigger asthma. Common allergens that are typically found inside homes include:
• Dust
• Pet hair and dander
• Mold
• Fumes from paints and household cleaners
• Insects like cockroaches
Other allergens that are present both indoors and outdoors include the following:
• Pollen
• Traffic air pollution
• Ozone at ground level


Mental stress

Stress is also responsible for triggering asthma. Apart from that, many emotions are also known to trigger the same health condition, like anger, joy, cry, laughter, excitement and others. Even people suffering from depression are also prone to exhibit asthmatic symptoms. Long-term stress is likely to trigger epigenetic changes in your body that lead to chronic asthma.


Genetic asthma

In many cases where asthma runs in the family, it is identified as genetic asthma.


Hormonal asthma

Asthma affects many women. It is seen that a large number of these women who are in their reproductive years, experience worse symptoms during menstruation compared to the rest of the month. These cases are called peri-menstrual asthma.


Tests for asthma

While treating asthma patients, doctors ask about their detailed individual symptoms, family medical history and personal medical conditions. They also conduct a physical examination and certain other tests. While diagnosing an asthma patient, the doctor also ascertains whether the case involves mild, moderate or severe asthma.

It is also important to identify asthma type. During the physical exam, the doctor will focus on the upper respiratory tract of a patient along with the skin and the chest. It is also important for the doctor to listen carefully to the patient’s wheezing. Asthmatic patients usually have a runny nose with nasal passages slightly swollen. The doctor will also look for any outgrowth inside the nose.

Asthma patients are usually detected with skin conditions like eczema and hives. In fact, these are all of the passive symptoms that loudly say that an individual is suffering from asthma.

Lung function test to denote asthma

Doctors also conduct lung function tests on these patients.

A spirometry test is a very common lung function test widely performed on asthmatic people. While taking the test, you breathe in deeply and then breathe out forcefully into a specially designed tube.

The tube connects to a spirometer. This test tells the quantity of air the individual inhales and exhales and also the speed at which he or she expels air from the lungs.

Doctors at a renowned clinic for a private health check suggest that you may also be given bronchodilator drug during the test to open up the airways.

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