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Common Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway disease. It is characterized by obstruction, hyperinflation, mucussecretion that’s leads to mucus plug formation, limitation of airflow.

Signs and Symptoms associated with Asthma:

  • Recurring episodes of cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Breathlessness and wheezing
  • Symptoms of asthma occur at night or in early morning, vary over time and in intensity

Triggers Causing Asthma or Attacks:

Triggers of asthmatic attack can be dueto a number of reasons. Following are few common reasons:

  • Viral infections
  • Exercise
  • Allergen exposure
  • Changes with weather
  • Laughter
  • Irritant such as smoke or strong smells
  • Car exhaust fumes
  • Increased air level of respirable particles like so2, no2, and ozone
  • Exposure to aspirin , nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or dyes.
  • Occupational asthma is triggered by different substances in the workplace and may occur weeks to years after initial exposure and sensitization.

 

Understanding Wheezing in Asthma:

Widespread, polyphonic high pitchedwheezes are commonly heard in asthma or during asthmatic attacks.Expiratory wheeze is heard with mild broncho-constriction.Inspiratory wheeze is heard in severe broncho-constriction. Pleasenote that the symptom of wheezing is not just typical to asthma itcan be also be produced in other diseases like tuberculosis , copd ,cardiac asthma , allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis ,eosinopphilic pneumonias etc.

Types of Asthma based on its causative factors:

  • Gastric asthma-: Worsening of asthma after meals or breathlessness occurring only after meals is due to gastro-oesophageal reflux.
  • Episodic asthma-: Patient has no respiratory symptoms between episodes of asthma.
  • Exercise induced asthma-: Asthma is induced by exercise.
  • Acute severe asthma (status asthmaticus)-: It is a medical emergency patient is hypoxic and cyanosed due to severe bronchospasm. It is characterized by tachypnoea(respiratory rate more than 30/minute) , tachycardia(pulse rate more than 130/minute) , sweating , altered level of consciousness , and an inspiration-expiration ratio of 1:3 or 1:4.
  • Mild asthma-:Breathlessness only with activity PEF>70% predicted or personal best
  • Moderate asthma-:Breathlessness interferes with limits of usual activity PEF<40-69% predicted or personal best
  • Severe asthma-:Breathlessness at rest interferes with conversation PEF<40% predicted or personal best

Aspects that constitute a life threatening asthmatic attack :

Life threatening asthmatic attack can be defined as an episode inwhich a person is too breathless to speak and the person is alsoprofusely sweating. Such episodes are termed as life threatening dueto the following complications:

  • Central cyanosis
  • Patient cannot speake
  • Confusion and altered consciousness
  • Bradycardia
  • Silent chest
  • Severe hypoxaemia
  • Unrecordable peak flow

In such cases it is best recommendedthat the patient rushes to a hospital and consults a pulmonologist atthe earliest.

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