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What is Asthma ? Asthma is a disorder
that affects 20% of Australians in their childhood.
It causes airways to narrow making it difficult to
breathe. Symptoms may include loss of breathe in
cold weather, wheezing and whistling. It may
occur periodically in sudden sharp attacks. When
an attack occurs – The muscles around the wind
pipe tighten shrinking the airways. The wind pipe
lining then swells (picture) and a mucus called
phlegm develops causing the cough to intensify
and slightly more painful. What are the Causes and
Triggers for asthma ? Attacks of Asthma occur
due to a blockage in the bronchial tubes. This
blockage results from a spasm that narrows the
windpipe causing breathing difficulty for the
sufferer. Asthma Triggers are things that make
Asthma worse. Usual triggers are – Respiratory
infections eg. Colds, flu, sore throats and
bronchitis Allergic reactions sometimes cause
Asthma eg. Pollen, foods, dust, animal fur or some
seed. Air irritants (similar to Allergic reactions) eg.
Cigarette smoke, gases or dust.
Excessive/strenuous exercise can cause an Asthma
attack. Emotional Stress can also trigger an
Asthma attack. Symptoms of Asthma Symptoms
include wheezing from the chest or a slight
whistling is heard when inhaling. It’s even louder
when exhaling. Tightness of the chest, lung and
lung area are closely associated with Asthma.
Treatment for asthma There is no cure for Asthma
but there are steps that doctors take to help
relieve the symptoms of Asthma. As a first step
doctors try to remove or get the patient to avoid
Asthma triggers such as "animal dander" (eg. Fur
or hairs). These are very likely to trigger an
Asthma attack. Places where animals dwell are
advised to be kept clear of for a sufferer. Since it
is impossible to remove or avoid all triggers there
are medications that can be taken. Such as – -
Anti – Inflammatory Drugs : these reduce swelling
of the windpipe and it’s lining. Oral Steroids -
prednisone and prednisolone quickly reduce
inflammation during an attack. Inhaled medicines -
such as cromoyln sodium and inhaled
corticosteroids keep inflammation from flaring up.
- Bronchodilators : relax the muscles which have
tightened around the windpipe. Adrenergic
bronchodilators ("Beta 2 agonists") provide
temporary relief but do not treat inflammation.
These are available as an Inhaler or a tablet form.
Unfortunately the tablets are slower and have a
few side affects. Theophylline is available in a
liquid, capsule or tablet form. This drug has a long
duration of action making it a very good soother
for "night time" Asthma. Ways of preventing
asthma There are no ways of preventing Asthma
because it is usually genetic, allergically related or
following a dose of bronchitis, but there are ways
to prevent it from flaring up and turning into an
attack. A sufferer can be very careful about his or
hers diet because the diet can greatly affect the
Asthma. Due to allergic reactions etc. Staying
away from pollens and animal fur settles down
Asthma. The allergic reactions are the highest
causes of Asthma. Make sure you always have
medication with you such as Intal and Becotide.
These preventative medicines will stop an attack
occurring. Summery For an Asthma sufferer
breathing can sometimes be a great difficulty due
to the fact that at any time their wind pipe can
shrink due to inflammation, making it very hard to
breathe. But with the right medication eg. Inhalers
and Theophylline their life can be much easier. If
they also stay away from triggers such as pollen,
fur and cigarette smoke the air ways may not be
so vulnerable. Even if you don’t have Asthma you
should keep an eye out for the symptoms which
are – chest and lung tightness, wheezing and loss
of breath especially in cold weather.
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