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Asthma is a lung disease in which our airways get inflamed, narrow, and swell. It makes it hard to breathe and trigger coughing, a whistling sound when we breathe out. In this article, we are going to discuss asthma and its causes, symptoms, risk factors, treatment, and prevention.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a clinical disease of chronic airway inflammation characterized by reversible, recurrent obstruction of airways. Airway inflammation also contributes to airway hyperreactivity, which decreases the response of airways to different stimuli. It makes breathing difficult and can make certain physical activities challenging or even impossible. Asthma may cause wheezing (whistling sound) that makes it hard to breathe. Some other causes include allergen or irritant exposure, emotional stress, viruses, exercise, and many others.

Symptoms of Asthma

There are various symptoms of asthma that differs in every person. Some of them are as follows:

  • Sleeping problems related to shortness of breath, coughing, and
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks, including a cold or flu, that are triggered by a respiratory virus
  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath

Causes of Asthma

Asthma is a disease that is characterized by chronic airway inflammation. Inflammation leads to the narrowing of the airways and the difficulty of breathing. Asthma's cause is unclear, while it is suspected to result from an association between genetic and environmental factors. Some other asthma risk factors include obesity, childhood infectious respiratory disease, exposure to cigarette smoke, and hay fever.

Asthma Trigger

Asthma's triggers can differ in every person. These may include various situations like:

  • Airborne allergens including such pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and cockroach waste particles.
  • Physical activity
  • Cold air
  • High emotion and tension
  • Certain medications, like beta-blockers, aspirin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and sodium naproxen (Aleve)
  • Respiratory infections, like the common cold
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a disorder in which stomach acids return to the throat.
  • Air pollutants and irritants, like smoke

Risk Factors of Asthma

The following are the various risk factors that increase the risk of developing asthma:

  • Getting another allergic disorder, such as atopic dermatitis, which causes red, skin irritation, seasonal allergies cause the runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Exposure to occupational causes like chemicals used in agriculture, hairdressing, and manufacturing
  • Having a blood relative with asthma
  • Being overweight and a smoker
  • Exposure to exhaust fumes and various types of pollution

Types of Asthma

The types of asthma can differ in every person. Some of them are as follows:

Allergic asthma (extrinsic asthma)

It is a common type of asthma caused by an allergic reaction. It is also known as allergy-induced asthma. There are various symptoms of allergic asthma. Some of them are as follows:

  • mold
  • pet dander from animals like dogs and cats
  • food
  • dust
  • pollen

Allergic asthma is seasonal also, and it often spread hand to hand.

Nonallergic asthma (intrinsic asthma)

Air irritants not linked to allergies cause this form of asthma. These irritants can include:

  • burning wood
  • cold air
  • viral illnesses
  • cigarette smoke
  • air fresheners
  • air pollution
  • perfumes
  • household cleaning products

Occupational asthma

It is a type of asthma that is triggered by stimuli in the workplace. It includes the following symptoms:

  • dust
  • dyes
  • industrial chemicals
  • animal proteins
  • woodworking
  • manufacturing
  • rubber latex
  • farming
  • textiles

Exercise-induced Bronchoconstriction

It usually affects people in few minutes of beginning exercise and up to 10-20 minutes after physical activity. This disease has previously been known as exercise-induced asthma (EIA). It is also experienced by up to 90% of asthma people, but not all with EIB with other forms of asthma.

Cough Variant Asthma

Cough-variant asthma (CVA) has no classical signs of wheezing and shortness of breath. A recurrent, dry cough can categorize this type of asthma.

Nocturnal asthma

It is a different type of asthma that symptoms worsen at night. Triggers suspected to cause symptoms at night include:

  • dust mites
  • heartburn
  • pet dander


There is no single procedure or test that can decide if you or your child have asthma. Instead, the doctor can use several criteria to decide whether the symptoms are related to asthma. When the doctor makes a diagnosis, they would also notice whether the asthma is intermittent, mild, moderate, and severe. People should keep track of their symptoms and potential causes to help the doctor make an informed diagnosis. It should provide details on possible irritants in the workplace. The following is the various diagnosis of asthma:

Physical exam

The doctor will concentrate on the respiratory tract, skin, and chest. They may listen to the symptoms of wheezing that may signify an obstructed airway and asthma. Doctors will also check some other things like:

  • Swollen nasal passages
  • A runny nose
  • Any growths on the nose inside
  • Eczema
  • Hives

Asthma tests

The doctor can also perform a lung function test to determine how well the lungs are functioning. One instance of a lung function test is a spirometry test. The person needs to take a deep and strong breath into a tube. The tube connects to a device called a spirometer, which displays how much air a person breathes and how rapidly the air is expelled from the lungs.

The doctor will first compare them with a similar aged person who doesn't have any types of asthma. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor prescribes a bronchodilator that opens the airways and repeats the results. If these second results are stronger, the person may have asthma.

Breathing tests

Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) assess the flow of air into and out of the lungs. For the most popular test, spirometry, we are blowing into a system that tests the speed of the air.

Doctors normally do not conduct breathing tests in children under 5 years of age because it is difficult to get reliable readings. Instead, they can prescribe asthma medication to the child and wait to see whether the symptoms will improve. If they do, the child is likely to have asthma.


The three types of asthma treatment available, which are given below:

Breathing exercises

The breathing exercises may help us to get fresh air into and out of the lungs. Over time, it can help to increase lung capacity and reduce asthma symptoms. The physician or an occupational therapist can enable you to learn these asthma breathing exercises.

Quick-relief asthma treatments

There are some medications used only in the event of starting symptoms of asthma or an attack. It gives quick relief to get breathing again. Some of the medicines are as follows:

  • First aid asthma treatment
    If people think somebody you know has an asthma attack, advise them to stay upright and help them use their nebulizer or rescue inhaler. It should help to relieve their symptoms with two to six puffs of medicine. If symptoms continue for more than 20 minutes and the second round of treatment does not improve, seek emergency medical care.
  • Bronchodilators
    Bronchodilators operate to lose the tightened muscles around your airwaves in few minutes. They may be taken as a nebulizer and inhaler.

Long term asthma control medications

There are various drugs available for long-term asthma control that advised to takes it daily. These drugs may reduce the number and severity of the asthma symptoms but do not control an attack's immediate symptoms. Some of the medicines are as follows:

  • Anticholinergics
    Anticholinergics help to avoid the tightening of the muscles around the airwaves. In conjunction with anti-inflammatories, they are usually taken daily.
  • Biologic therapy drugs
    The new injectable drugs may help people to recover from severe asthma.
  • Long-acting bronchodilators
    It can only be used in conjunction with anti-inflammatory drugs for asthma.

Bronchial thermoplasty

Bronchial therapy uses an electrode to heat the airwaves within the lungs, minimizing and avoiding tightening muscle size. Bronchial thermoplastic is intended for people with severe asthma. It's not widely available.


There is no way to avoid asthma, but we may take a step-by-step plan to deal with the condition and prevent asthma attacks. The various prevention option for asthma are as follows:

  • Identify and avoid asthma triggers
    Some various outdoor allergens and irritants may cause asthma attacks, including mold, cold air, air pollution, and many others. We have to find out what asthma induces and then take some measures to prevent those triggers.
  • Monitor the breathing
    We may monitor to identify warning signs, such as slight coughing, shortness of breath, or an imminent attack.
  • Identify and treat attacks early
    If we respond early to asthma, we're less likely to have a severe asthma attack. In order to manage the symptoms, we would also not need as much medication. When the peak flow measurements decrease and alert us of an oncoming attack, take medicine as the doctor advised.
  • Take the medication as prescribed
    After consulting the doctor first, do not change the drugs, even though asthma appears to be improving. It's a safe idea to bring the prescription with us after any visit to the doctor. The doctor would be able to make sure that we use the medication correctly and take the right medicine.

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