Asthma is a pathosis affecting the day to day life of the sufferers. It is a lifelong disease involving the incapacitation to breathe completely. The reason behind this disability is inflammation of small airways known as bronchioles. This inflammation generates highly sensitive and swollen airways. It is a reversible mechanism culprit for narrowing of the bronchioles which if left untreated can result in irreversible thinning of the airways. This disease restricts the area of air inflow; as a consequence of this less quantity of oxygen becomes available to the lungs. The stimulants accountable for the asthma inflammation are allergens like dust particles, pollen grains, mites or some other factors like change in weather, smoking, stress, physical exertion, hypersensitivity to any medicine and lots more.
About 300 million people are suffering globally from asthma; Americans constitute sixty-six percent of the total asthmatic population. Asthma is a major issue affecting not only adult population but has also involved the children. Asthma can endanger the life if left untreated. Awareness about the disease is a must so that the exacerbations can be controlled.
In asthma, pathological changes including the inflammation and oedema of air tubes occur resulting in generation of mucus over there. The aggravation of symptoms is due to narrowing of bronchioles. The symptoms observed in the patients of asthma are difficulty in breathing, wheezing (a whistling sound during breathing), shortness of breath and coughing which takes place commonly during midnight and early morning. The symptoms of asthma can be controlled by proper management of the disease so the severe acute attacks can be warded off.
The triggering factors for asthma vary from one patient to another. If you are finding difficulty in breathing due to dust (an allergen) then there might be a possibility that any other individual suffering from asthma do not influence by the same allergen. The etiological factors for the originations of asthma manifestations are mentioned here.
• Allergy causing agents such as pollen grains, dust, moulds, hair of pets, animal dander.
• Physical exercise can also trigger asthma.
• Long term use of some medicines such as beta-blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen and some other can lead to the development of this condition.
• Respiratory infections like common cold.
• Some preservatives and additives used in food products like sulphites, tartrazine (add yellow colour to food), aspartame (sweetening agent), parabens, glutamic acid.
• Exposure to some viral infections.
• Asthmatic symptoms can also be generated because of direct exposure of a person to the hazardous chemicals, fumes or the gases as in mines or other industries.
• Predominant family history of asthma.
Asthma attack or exacerbation of asthma
The worsening of asthmatic symptoms during a short period of time is known as exacerbation of asthma or acute asthma attacks. This condition is life threatening if not controlled in time. Tightening of the bronchial muscles brings out the sudden narrowing of air passages. Inflammation further restricts the air passages by generating a large amount of mucus. All these physiological modifications ends into an asthma attack endangering the life of the victim. Severe coughing, profuse sweating, blue nails and lips, tightening of chest and neck, wheezing, difficulty in speaking are some manifestations of acute asthma attack.
Types of Asthma
Allergic Asthma: It is highly prevalent among children. Allergens are responsible for the provocation of immune system.
Exercise induced Asthma: After 5 to 20 minutes of physical exercise the symptoms of asthma appear.
Cough variant Asthma: The main symptom exhibited by patients of this type of asthma is a dry cough.
Nocturnal Asthma: This type of asthma manifests only during midnight to early morning; production of mucus during night grounds for nocturnal asthma.
Eradication of asthma is not possible but awareness and proper management of the disease can minimize the likelihood of heightening the condition. Asthma therapy includes two facets:
• Long term management therapy: It is a controller therapy which is employed for asthma prophylaxis. Inhaled corticosteroids are proved to be very effective as a maintenance therapy of asthma which acts as anti-inflammatory agents. Bronchodilators such as Long acting Beta agonists (LABA) like formoterol, salmeterol reprieve the symptoms of asthma through smooth muscle relaxation of the bronchioles. When used in combination with corticosteroids in the inhaled form the disease gets well controlled.
• Quick relieving therapy: It is a rescue treatment during an asthma attack. Short acting beta agonist such as Albuterol, Levosalbutamol acts promptly during asthma attack and augment air inflow by broadening the air tubules. These medicines are very useful for the prophylaxis of exercise induced asthma when administered prior to exercise.
Dosage forms used for asthma
Novel drug delivery systems for inhalational use such as Rotacaps, Respules, Diskus, Aerosol inhalers, Dry powder inhalers are approved for the efficient and targeted drug administration. However the traditional dosage forms such as pills, injections, liquids are still prescribed and are very helpful for controlling asthma.
Tips for asthma patients
• Asthma medications are indicated for controlling and preventing the asthma symptoms. Take your medication on a regular basis, never skip the dose.
• Most of the patients require more than one type of the medication to have a good control over asthma. Not all asthmatics need the same type of medicines. Never share your medicine with any other asthma patient.
• Never use corticosteroids for long periods of time. Avoid self-medication.
• Learn to use the devices or equipment like Inhalers, Nebulizers and Rotahalers for effective and complete drug delivery; if unable to understand the information provided on the user manual ask your doctor or pharmacist.
• Discuss your expectation from medications with your doctor so you can know whether the treatment plan devised for you is working or not. In case you are not getting any benefit tell your doctor so that your treatment plan can be redesigned.
• Asthma is an allergic disease, avoid direct contact with the allergen and always get ready to face the worsening or exacerbation by keeping a rescue inhaler with you.
• In case of food allergies, read the label carefully before consuming a product. The only way of prevention is avoidance of the cause.
Hope that the readers would get benefited from the information given in this article. Awareness about asthma is essential so that the life of asthmatic patients move on smoothly without needing the help of others!