What is Asthma ?
Airways become narrow and get constricted and there is excess mucus production in asthma. It makes breathing difficult and also triggers wheezing and coughing. For some asthma is just a minor ailment. Others might not be able to function and may have near fatal experiences. Even though it can’t be cured. The symptoms are manageable. As it can change with time, it is necessary that your doctor tracks your symptoms and signs and adjusts treatment as required. It isn’t known as to why some people have asthma while others don’t. Genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role in this.
What trrigers Asthma?
The chances of asthma increase for a number of reasons. These are:
Diagnosis and Treatment
It is necessary to do a physical exam to rule out other possibilities like COPD (chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease) or respiratory infections. The doctor will conduct these tests and question about your symptoms and signs.
Asthma is the most common chronic condition for women in pregnancy. While Asthma control can affect pregnancy, pregnancy too can affect Asthma. Yet while pregnancy does not beget Asthma, neither does it abate.
Nevertheless, Asthma management during pregnancy is very important. Improper Asthma management, especially in difficult Asthma, during pregnancy may imperil both the mother and the child.
Avoiding Asthma Triggers
Asthma triggers may be different for different people. In general, one or a few of the following act as Asthma triggers:
Allergens like pollen, dust mite etc.
Certain occupational exposure
Certain drugs like β‐blockers, aspirin etc.
Additives like tartrazine, monosodium glutamate etc.
Certain medical conditions like gastric reflux, rhinitis etc.
Apart from avoiding these Asthma triggers, she would also need to follow the instructions of her gynecologists. She should always be concerned that if the treatment is not working or if she is experiencing any trouble, she must consult with the gynecologists. She can also do some exercises to stay active and healthy.
However, she should always consult a doctor before doing any exercise, especially for those who have experienced Asthma attacks in the past.
Effects of Asthma on Pregnancy
Poor Asthma management and difficult Asthma before pregnancy are associated with increased risk of hypertension during pregnancy, which can beget Preeclampsia. Studies have also shown that women with Asthma tend to undergo Caesarean sections more than others. It has also been observed that Asthma may restrict the growth of the fetus leading to low birth weight.
However, this is more due to poor Asthma control such as persistent breathing difficulty or poor lung function etc., than Asthma per se.
Effects of Pregnancy on Asthma
Certain physiological factors during pregnancy do affect Asthma. In difficult Asthma, control usually deteriorates between 24 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, mainly due to poor adherence to corticosteroids. This is why pregnant women with Asthma should be monitored closely irrespective of the severity of Asthma.
Breathlessness in Pregnancy
Breathlessness during pregnancy is common. In fact, even pregnant women with no Asthma symptoms may feel breathless at times. It reflects some normal physiological and anatomical changes during pregnancy. Even anxiety may precipitate breathlessness. This indicates that pregnant women with difficult Asthma may feel breathless, not just because of Asthma, but also because of normal changes during this period. However, new incidents of Asthma can also be a cause of breathlessness.
Respiratory Distress in Pregnant Women
Respiratory distress in pregnant women may not always be due to asthma. There may be a whole host of reasons that include Anxiety, Hyperventilation, chest infection, dysfunctional breathing, pneumonia, interstitial lung disease, thromboembolic disease, amniotic fluid embolism, pneumothorax, ischemic heart disease, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy and a variety of endocrine, hematological and renal disorders.
Preventing Respiratory Distress During Pregnancy
Apart from avoiding Asthma triggers, pregnant women with Asthma or difficult Asthma need to strictly adhere to Asthma control. This indicates that they need to adhere to their corticosteroids religiously. However, before that, they also need to make sure that the corticosteroid is safe to be taken during pregnancy.
Asthma may or may not affect pregnancy. However, it is always a great idea to go for Asthma management. This will help women deal with complications related to Asthma during pregnancy.
Apart from that, always consult a doctor before going for any medication related to Asthma control, or actual treatment of Asthma.
Pregnancy brings with it a slew of changes in the physiological parameters of women. Women are susceptible to a number of complications, including respiratory complications during this stage. An abnormal chest X-ray or a complaint regarding some kind of respiratory trouble guides doctors to explore the possibility of pregnancy leading to respiratory complications.
Let us explore the likely respiratory complications during pregnancy.
Though studies do not indicate any increase in risk of pneumococcal infection during pregnancy, it has been observed that complications arising out of pneumonia are increased during this time. Anemic or asthmatic women are more susceptible to this infection, and the risk of complications is also more common in such women. It entails risk for both the mother and the child. While the child can be born preterm or low in weight, the mother can even suffer respiratory failure.
It is a kind of fungal infection that affects the respiratory system, especially in the last trimester of pregnancy. It is a respiratory tract infection that is self- limiting in nature. However, owing to reduced immunity during pregnancy, this fungal infection may turn out to be severe. It may cause a variety of complications, including pneumonia, fever, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, etc.
However, timely diagnosis and administration of antifungal therapy has reduced maternal mortality to a large extent.
There is a risk of formation of blood clots during pregnancy due to hypercoagulability of blood during this stage. This leads to an enhanced risk of embolic pneumonia, where blood clots may block an artery in the lungs. It is an emergency condition where patients usually have difficulty breathing, chest pain, cough, etc.
Pregnancy is not a risk factor for asthma, but asthma during pregnancy may exacerbate the risk of complications such as premature birth, restricted growth, preeclampsia, etc.
Tips to Avoid
These and other respiratory complications during pregnancy, if any, increase the risk of complications for the mother as well as the fetus. However, there are ways that pregnant women can adopt to get over these problems and give birth to a healthy baby.
Lung function is a major indicator of health since it determines the amount of Oxygen that a body is getting. Doctors resort to Pulmonary Function Tests if there is a problem with breathing or the lungs. Pulmonary tests show how the lungs are functioning. These tests measure parameters like lung capacity, lung volume, gas exchange, rate of flow, etc.
Armed with information from these tests, a doctor can decide whether a person has some issues with lungs or not. And if there’s some issue, doctor will be able to easily decide the line of treatment for accelerated recovery.
Type Of Pulmonary Function Tests
There are two common types of Pulmonary Function Tests: Spirometry and Plethysmography
● This test measures how much air a person can inhale and exhale, as well as how fast one can empty the lungs.
● It may also be done to monitor the lung condition periodically to measure the outcome of a treatment a person may be undergoing.
● In this test, a person needs to breathe into a tube. The tube is attached to a Spirometer.
● Before the test, nostrils will be closed with a clip. The person will also need to create a seal around the tube, so that there is no leakage of air.
● Patient will be asked to take a deep breath and then breathe out as hard as possible through the tube.
● The doctor may ask the person to repeat the effort three times so that he gets consistent result.
● This measures how much air is actually in the lungs after a deep inhalation.
● During the test, one needs to sit in a plastic box, wear a clip on the nostrils, wrap lips around a special mouthpiece and breathe in and out through it.
Why To Undergo Pulmonary Function Tests
Doctors may conduct Pulmonary Function Tests even on healthy people. If a person works in certain hazardous environments like graphite factory, coal mine, etc., the employer may order such tests on a regular basis. People working in such places are at risk of developing Pulmonary problems.
However, the most common condition when a doctor may advise a PFT is when someone faces health problems like:
● Respiratory infections
● Breathing problem after injury
● Chronic lung problems like Bronchiectasis, Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, Emphysema, etc.
● Tumors in the lungs or scarring or inflammation of the lungs
Diseases That May Precipitate The Need For A PFT
● Sarcoidosis, a disease characterised by the formation of lumps of inflammatory cells around the lungs, spleen, eyes, skin, etc.
● Asbestosis, a disease that results from inhalation of Asbestos particles.
● Scleroderma, which causes thickening of connective tissues.
One of the Pulmonary Function Tests may be advised by a doctor for a variety of reasons. These tests do not always mean that Lungs have a problem. They are just a way to measure the parameters of working of the Lungs so that a Physician can treat a problem effectively if found.
The air that we breathe in has become a cauldron of harmful and poisonous gases, particulate matter, chemical fumes and a host of similar toxic substances. Pollution, especially of the air is at an all-time rise. The quality of air is deteriorating with each passing day, triggering a plethora of health problems. Chronic and severe lung and respiratory disorders (such as COPD, Chronic Bronchitis, Asthma, Emphysema), heart and kidney problems, headache, burning eyes, are affecting people (irrespective of their age and sex) like never before. As per WHO, nearly 6.5 million premature deaths worldwide are reported yearly due to pollution, a depressing statistics indeed! Thus, necessary preventive measures should be followed to keep ourselves and our loved ones protected from the deleterious effects of pollution.
The use of Anti-pollution masks to deal with pollution
N95, N99 and P25 Air Masks
Living with asthma can be tough, but not necessarily unmanageable to the point that it interferes living your life to the fullest. It all boils down to being aware of the triggers, signs and all the other relevant details and taking the necessary precautions to keep the asthma attack at arm’s length.
Here is an insight.
Apart from the preventive measures mentioned above, regular exercises and yoga will strengthen the capacity of lungs and help you fight asthma with ease. A healthy diet and stress-free lifestyle is the key to keep this problem at miles away from you!
What is Asthma ?
What trrigers Asthma?
Diagnosis and Treatment