Asthma is a chronic (long term) respiratory disease. It causes inflammation as a result of which airways (windpipe) become narrow and patients experience difficulty in breathing and cough.
Symptoms are usually intermittent. (Patients may remain symptom-free for months and then again have symptoms)
Symptoms of asthma
- Cough ( more in early morning and night )
- Breathing difficulty
- Whistling noise from the chest ( called as wheezing )
- Chest tightness
- All above symptoms may be episodic.
Diagnosis of asthma is based on patient’s symptoms, clinical examination and pulmonary function tests
Factors that trigger asthma
Exposure to airborne allergens (such as pollens, dust mites), irritants (tobacco smoke, chulha smoke fumes), viral infections, change of weather, stress, certain medications (beta blocker) can trigger episode of asthma.
Treatment of asthma
Asthma can be effectively treated.
Treatment depends upon patient’s symptoms and differs from one individual to another.
Inhaled steroids are the treatment of choice. Inhalers are the most effective treatment for asthma and, contrary to the common belief are non habit forming.
Patients require regular follow up to assess their level of asthma control and medications may be increased or decreased accordingly.
Most patients stop taking their inhalers once their symptoms improve. This should not be done as most patients require maintenance treatment to keep asthma under control. Any change in medication should be done after consulting the treating doctor.
Many new drugs are now available for patients with severe symptoms even on maximal inhalation therapy
I would like to conclude by saying that individuals should not ignore their symptoms and should seek medical advice early. Regular compliance with medications can help to keep asthma under control.