What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition affecting the airways and causing difficulty in breathing. Most people can manage their condition well. But there are times when they may experience the “asthma attack”, an episode of asthma where symptoms suddenly get worse.

 

See your GP right away if you suspect you have asthma. Immediately seek emergency medical treatment if you experience a bout of an asthma attack.

Symptoms

Asthma symptoms include the following:

 

  • Chest tightness with feelings of achy, crushing, or stabbing pains
  • Struggling to breath or breathlessness
  • A wheeze when breathing, characterised by whistling sounds as you breathe out
  • Cough which becomes worse last thing at night or first thing in the morning

 

How you experience your symptoms depends on the severity of your asthma. Other people experience asthma regularly, while some only get them from time-to-time.

Diagnosis

It is important to consult your doctor right away if you suspect you or your child develops asthma.

 

Your doctor can diagnose asthma by inquiring about your medical history, any family history of asthma, and the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. Tell them what you know as accurately as possible so that the doctors can rule out other conditions that may seem similar to asthma.

 

There are also simple tests your doctor may want you to undergo to confirm that your condition is indeed asthma.

Causes

sthma creates an inflammation on the tubes leading to your lungs, medically termed as bronchi. Exact causes of asthma are unclear, but certain triggers may cause the condition to flare up. Triggers vary greatly for every asthmatic person.

 

Your bronchi are highly sensitive. When it becomes exposed to a triggering factor, the bronchi begin to narrow and increase the production of mucus to help it ward off the trigger. This leads to chest tightness, cough, wheezes, and shortness of breath.

 

Asthma is strongly rooted in genetics. The condition often runs in families, but you have an even greater risk if aside from genetics you are also:

 

  • Prematurely born
  • Had a low birth weight
  • Your mother smoked while she was pregnant with you

 

Asthma is typically diagnosed early on in childhood. The disease may also manifest in adults, especially if there are triggering factors one is exposed to at work.

 

Treatment

Asthma currently has no known cure. Treatment is focused on alleviating symptoms of an asthma episode and preventing episodes from frequently coming back.

 

Medications are the most common treatment option for asthma. They are typically used in an inhaler form and may be composed of the following medications:

 

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Beta-agonists
  • Leukotriene receptor modifiers

 

Recognition and avoidance of asthma triggers are also keys to successful asthma management. Our GPs can help you with this by pinpointing your possible triggers and creating an action plan for when you suddenly get exposed to your triggering factors.

 

You really need to see a doctor for individualized treatment plans to manage your asthma. Your individual symptoms, responses to treatment, and your personal circumstances all play important roles in helping your doctor create your own treatment plan.

Asthma in pregnancy

You can carry on with pregnancy without worrying that it will affect your unborn baby. However, expect to experience worsened asthma symptoms during pregnancy. Speak to your doctor for more advice and to check if your current medications are still enough for your heightened symptoms.

 

Having severe asthma can impact your labour and delivery. Often, you and your doctors must take extra precautions as you get nearer your delivery due date. Talk to them about your concerns before childbirth so that they can give you advice and support that you need.