What are asthma symptoms?
Asthma is a relatively common disease which affects the breathing. It is usually chronic (long-term), with the patient suffering repeated, sudden attacks of breathlessness.
During asthma symptoms, it ‘s hard to breathe in, and even harder to breathe out. There is a characteristic wheezing as the patient breathes out, and he or she may want to cough but find it impossible to do so.
In severe attacks, the patient may become anxious, pale, severely breathless, and the pulse rate increases. Asthma can develop at any age, but it mainly affects the young, with up to 1:10 children suffering an attack at some time.
In most cases, the symptoms are not severe, and the disease usually disappears altogether during the teenage years.
The condition asthma symptoms are sometimes known as bronchial asthma (to distinguish it from cardiac asthma in which breathlessness is due to heart failure).
The bronchioles (tiny airways in the lungs) become narrow and mucus collects in them, provoking breathlessness and the need to cough.
In some people, asthma attacks may be caused by a substance to which the person is allergic. Typical allergens are pollens, dust, animal fur or feathers, and molds.
Other people, however, are affected by specific irritants, foods or additives.
Exercise or breathing cold air can trigger an attack, as can anxiety or stress.
How is asthma diagnosed and treated?
Even severe attacks pass quite quickly in asthma symptoms, and so the patient may have no symptoms to show to the doctor.
To make a diagnosis, the doctor needs a complete description of the symptoms and their frequency, and whether there is anything that appears to trigger off an attack.
The doctor will usually listen to the patient’s breathing through a stethoscope and measure the
flow of air as the patient breathes out, using a simple machine.
Allergy tests may be carried out, and a chest X-ray was taken. Many forms of treatment are available, and the doctor may try several before the best is found.
For people who suffer from frequent attacks, there are preventive drugs such as sodium cromoglycate or steroids, which have to be taken regularly. Drugs may be taken by inhalation or in tablet or liquid form, and during severe attacks, injections may be given.
Difficulty in breathing, especially in breathing out.
Coughing that is worse at night or in the early hours of the morning.
Coughing brought on, for example, by laughter or exercise.
A severe attack may cause pallor, anxiety, cold sweat and palpitations.
What can I do myself in the case of asthma symptoms?
If you are tending a person having a severe attack, the patient should be calmed and reassured while medical assistance is being sought.
When should I see my doctor?
You should see your doctor if you or your child develops symptoms of asthma, or if you have been diagnosed as asthmatic, and your symptoms do not respond to the treatment prescribed. Severe asthma attacks are medical emergencies and must be taken seriously.
What will the doctor do?
The doctor will ask you about the symptoms and what brings them on. If he or she thinks an infection has caused an attack, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Drugs may be prescribed that should be taken during an attack. The doctor may also suggest their use in circumstances where an attack is likely (for example, before sport).
The doctor will monitor the patient’s condition to ensure that the most efficient treatment is being prescribed. Most patients are now given regular treatment with inhaled preventive drugs, using the dilators when necessary.
When Asthma Symptoms Triggers?
The doctor should be called if the patient has a prolonged attack and the traditional treatment is not effective.
Drugs should be used strictly as prescribed. Over-use can be harmful. The doctor should be informed if the treatment is not effective so that alternatives can be tried.
vacuumed. If you are allergic to animal fur, pets should not be kept. Any substances linked to attacks should be avoided as much as possible. Asthmatics should not smoke or be subjected to cigarette smoke.
What can I do to avoid asthma?
If the asthma is due to an allergy, dust mites may be the cause and the environment should be kept as free as possible from dust. Carpets should be vacuumed daily, and curtains washed every four to six weeks.
Dusting should be done with a damp cloth. Mattresses, duvets, and pillows should be covered in airtight plastic and frequently turned and vacuumed. If you are allergic to animal fur, pets should not be kept.
Is asthma dangerous?
Asthma varies in severity. Most attacks are relatively mild and short-lived, but in a few cases, they are serious.
It causes severe breathlessness, and you may be unable to speak or lie down; if the blood becomes starved of oxygen, the skin and lips may turn blue. Emergency hospital treatment is needed in this situation.
With new drugs, even severe asthma need not prevent the patient from leading a normal life.