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Asthma is a condition marked by the swelling and narrowing of the airways thus, producing excess mucus. This triggers coughing, breathing difficulties and wheezing. Asthma can be a minor inconvenience for some, while for others, it can often result in a deadly asthma attack.
It isn’t definite as to what causes asthma in some and not in others, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors is a probable reason. Factors that trigger asthma is varied, and is subjective. Some common causes of asthma include:
- Airborne matters, such as cockroach waste particles, pet dander, mould spores, dust mites or pollen
- Respiratory Infections
- Physical activity
- Cold air
- Irritants (such as smoking) and air pollutants
- Some medications, such as naproxen, ibuprofen, beta blockers and aspirin
- Stress and strong emotions
- Preservatives and sulphites added to some beverages and food, such as wine, beer, processed potatoes, dried fruit and shrimp
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (Stomach acids retreat into the throat)
Signs you should look for?
Symptoms of asthma vary a lot, and differ among people. You can have infrequent attacks at times or suffer from the symptoms perpetually. Asthma symptoms and signs include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Chest pain or tightness
- Trouble sleeping due to breathing problems, wheezing or coughing
- A wheezing or whistling sound at exhaling
- Wheezing or coughing attacks that are aggravated by respiratory virus, such as flu or cold
Complications associated with asthma include:
- Symptoms and signs that interfere with recreational activities or school work
- Sick days from work or school when asthma flares up
- Persistent contractions of the bronchial tube that can lead to problems in breathing
- Hospitalisation and visits to the emergency room during critical asthma attacks
- Long-term consumption of certain medications to fix severe asthma can cause side effects
Long-term control and prevention are the main goals of asthma treatment. Treatment generally applies learning about the things that trigger your asthma, taking necessary steps to dodge them and checking your breathing to ascertain that your regular medications are effectively controlling your asthma. Inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta agonists, theophylline are some common long-term treatments to control asthma.
Medicines are prescribed based on your symptoms, age, triggers and what best keeps your asthma regulated. Also, you and your doctor need to work together to come up with a plan to counter your asthma. For example, if you think your symptoms are getting better, consult with your doctor to reduce your medication doses. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a pulmonologist and ask a free question.
Allergies are a reaction of your immune system to any foreign matter, such as pet dander, pollen or bee venom, and not everyone is affected in the same way.
Antibodies are substances produced by your immune system to protect you from harmful invaders that can cause infections or make you ill.
The immune system produces antibodies when it comes into contact with allergens. Your immune system can recognise any allergen as threatening even if it’s not. As a result, your skin, airways, digestive system or sinus gets inflamed.
Allergies can vary greatly in severity—from mild irritations to anaphylaxis (a likely life-threatening emergency). Allergies are mostly incurable; however, there are various treatments available to alleviate allergy symptoms.
Common triggers of allergy include:
Airborne allergens, such as mould, dust mites, animal dander and pollen.
Certain foods, especially milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, soy, wheat, tree nuts and peanuts.
Insect bites, such as wasp stings or bee stings.
Medications, specifically penicillin-based antibiotics or penicillin.
Latex, or any allergen you touch, causes skin infections.
Symptoms of allergy depend on its type.
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) symptoms include:
Itching of the roof of the mouth, eyes or nose
Stuffy, runny nose
Swollen, red or watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
Symptoms of food allergy include:
Swollen throat, face, tongue or lips
Anaphylaxis (a critical, deadly allergic reaction)
An allergy caused by insect stings can manifest in symptoms such as:
Swelling at the site of the sting
Hives or itching
Breathing problems, wheezing, coughing or chest tightness
A drug allergy can lead to symptoms such as:
Atopic dermatitis (skin allergy) symptoms include:
Peeling or flaky skin
Treatments of allergy include:
Avoiding Allergens: Your doctor can help you take necessary steps to recognise and avoid the allergens that trigger allergies. This is usually the most relevant step in the prevention of allergic reactions and reduction of symptoms.
Medicines to Lower Symptoms: Eye drops, nasal sprays or oral medications are commonly prescribed to reduce reactions and alleviate symptoms.
Immunotherapy: If the allergy is severe or other treatments fail to relieve symptoms, allergen immunotherapy is recommended. In this treatment, you get injected by a number of clarified allergen extracts over the years.
- Emergency Epinephrine: If your allergy is severe, your doctor will provide you with an emergency epinephrine shot that you can carry with you everywhere.