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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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