Asthma is a chronic health condition that affects the airways and lungs. It occurs when the airways and passages in the lung are inflamed and swollen, making it difficult for air to pass through them. The airways produce a thick mucus, which also blocks the passage of oxygen.
This inflammation and mucus secretion can worsen because of triggers, such as allergies or exposure to pollutants and irritants. This causes the airways to constrict even more, resulting in symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Together, all of these things make it difficult to breathe.
For some people, these symptoms appear especially during exercise, when an additional strain is placed on the lungs to get enough oxygen. For others, symptoms of asthma only appear during exercise, a condition known as exercise-induced asthma. Other types of asthma include allergic asthma and occupational asthma.
Asthma most commonly appears during childhood and last into adulthood, though it can also appear for the first time in adults over the age of twenty. Asthma tends to run in families—children with one or two parents who have asthma are more likely to develop asthma. Asthma is also closely linked to allergies. In many cases, allergies are triggers of asthma symptoms. Most people who suffer from asthma also suffer from allergies.
Though asthma has no cure, it can be managed using medication with little to no serious side effects. People with asthma can even exercise as long as they Most people who have asthma have a mild version of the disease and with medication, they rarely experience attacks.
Treatment for Asthma
Most people know that asthma is treated with something called a bronchodilator, or an inhaler. This allows medicine for asthma to go directly to the lungs to treat muscle constriction and inflammation. In general, there are two types of treatments:
1. Long-term “controller” medication.
This type of medication is a preventative method. It helps to decrease symptoms of asthma, including attacks, in the long term. It has to be taken every day and should not be used to treat an acute asthma attack.
Inhaled corticosteroids, which come in a bronchodilator, are the most commonly prescribed long-term controller medication. They help to reduce inflammation in the lungs. In severe cases of asthma, they may be prescribed alongside another type of medication.
2. Quick-relief medication.
Quick-relief or “rescue” medication is used in case of an asthma attack. They work immediately to relax the muscles in the airways, allowing you to breathe better. They are not taken every single day, but rather, they are used as needed during a flare-up of symptoms. But in general, people who suffer from asthma shouldn’t be using them more than twice a week. This can be a sign that your long-term controller medication has lost its effectiveness.