7 Common Symptoms Of Asthma (And Diagnosis & Medications)

Asthma

In this article, we’ll discuss some common symptoms of asthma.

Overview

Everyone knows somebody with asthma. It can be your friend, grandparents, or just another office colleague. Asthma is a very common disease with over 10 million cases per year in India. Although common it rarely causes death.

What Is Asthma? 

Asthma, also known as bronchial asthma, is a clinical condition in which there is an infection of the respiratory pathway. The region that gets infected is known as the Bronchi. It is the branch of the trachea, a small tube in the air passage to the lungs. 

Asthma is a chronic infection of bronchi which causes narrowing of it, leading to difficult and irregular. Although the narrowing of the bronchi may be partly reversible.

Asthma is more common in men than in women. But after puberty women are more likely to have asthma than men.

Types Of Asthma

Asthma is mainly of two types. One in which the cause is allergic agents and the second one in which the cause is something other than allergy-causing agents.

  • Atopic asthma: The type of asthma in which the main cause is allergy-causing agents including dust, pollens, etc. The allergens cause irritation in the air passage and increased prolonged exposure to allergens causes infection of the bronchi. This kind of asthma can be passed on due to genes too.
  • None atopic asthma: In this type of asthma, respiratory infections are due to viruses like rhinovirus or parainfluenza virus. This type of asthma cannot be passed on by genes. 

Symptoms Of Asthma

1. Dyspnea

It means difficulty in breathing. Due to the infection of bronchi, the inhalation of air with all kinds of dust particles makes breathing harder than normal. The more polluted the air is, the more difficult it will be for an asthma patient to breathe in that environment. That is why people living in metro cities where there are a lot of vehicles and air pollution can suffer from severe asthma.

2. The Tightness Of Chest

A person suffering from asthma is not able to breathe properly, this leads to a feeling of congestion in the air passage. The patient begins to feel a restriction in the thorax region. Thus a feeling of tightness in the chest area begins to develop.

3. Mouth Breathing

The nasal passage might also get blocked in asthma. As we all know breathing is an essential process for living, as an alternate path the person starts breathing from the mouth. Although breathing from the mouth is unhealthy as the chances of inhaling excess pollutants are higher than when breathing from the nose.

4. Wheezing

This is a type of sound that you can hear when asthmatic patients breathe. Because of the obstruction of their air passage, a whistling sound is produced. It’s very similar to the sound that arises by blowing into a narrow tube. 

5. Cough

One of the major symptoms of asthma is a cough. It can be with or without mucus. Mucus, made of dead white blood cells, is a slimy and thick fluid produced in our bodies. Whenever there is an infection in the body, it produces mucus to prevent the external infectious particles to stick on the walls of bronchi.

6. Anxiety

Breathing is a crucial process for obvious reasons. Our bodies need oxygen to produce energy that helps us in day-to-day activities. As breathing becomes difficult, we get slightly deprived of oxygen. This develops a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety, eventually making a person stressed.

7. Early Awakening

Asthma usually brings extra discomfort at night which disturbs the sleep-wake cycle of the patient causing the person to wake up early in the morning. When on the verge of an asthma attack (although suppressed by medication), the patient begins to feel nervous and uncomfortable which disrupts their sleep.

Diagnosis

You would be advised to undergo a chest X-ray or a sinus X-ray if the cough and uneasiness is persistent. The doctor would also use a stethoscope to listen to your breathing. Constant irregular breathing would indicate asthma. 

There is a device known as a spirometer that is used to measure the maximum possible exhalation of air by a human. Based on how quickly can you fill and empty your lungs, the doctor gets a clearer idea as to whether you are asthmatic or not. 

Medicines

Asthma could be a problem that makes several daily activities hard to perform. Some people prefer controller medication such as pumps or quick-relief pills to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.

However, if you are looking for long-term medication then these options could do great benefit to combat asthma symptoms:

  • Bronchodilator, also known as, Theophylline
  • Anticholinergics, also known as, Tiotropium Bromide (Spiriva Respimat). Don’t step preceding medication when you begin consuming this.
  • Chemicals in the body that cause inflammation can be restricted by Leukotriene modifiers.
  • Immunomodulators such as Reslizumab (Cinqair), Omalizumab (Xolair), and Mepolizumab (Nucala).

Hygiene Hypothesis

There is an interesting theory related to asthma. It suggests that people with a lack of infections in early childhood are more likely to have asthma than those children who grew up experiencing many infections in their younger days. 

This is because after the white blood cells kill the unfamiliar agents in our body, some cells create a memory of that infection and make our immunity strong. Due to this, the next time we have that infection our cells know how to deal with it. 

Research suggests that a parasite-causing intestine infection may also be related to a decreased risk of asthma.

Conclusion

People may be infected with asthma via allergens, viruses, from the genes of their relatives. Rather than permanent treatment and lifestyle changes, a number of people over the world resort to inhalers and air pumps. This decreases the allergic reactions in the bronchi and offers temporary comfort. 

If you do not have your medicines available, then consider sitting upright and attempting to take long deep breathes. This will give you conscious control over the hyperventilation build-up. Just stay calm and get some fresh air, you never know what allergen was present is in the air when you felt uncomfortable.