Asthma can affect a person in many ways. It primarily affects the airways in the lungs, but can also have a great impact on brain function.  Asthma restricts the amount of oxygen that a human body receives. Lack of oxygen can have a dramatic effect on the overall functionality of various organs. Common asthma symptoms include wheeze, cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

Asthma- A Chronic Condition

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs with a significant health burden. It disturbs the normal breathing pattern by narrowing the airways. When the airways become narrowed, the amount of oxygen entering the body and the amount of carbon dioxide leaving the body are both restricted.

Key questions to learn about asthma

Also Read: Key questions to learn about asthma

The following conditions cause the airways to narrow:

Tightening of the muscles: In asthma patients, the airways sometimes overreact to trigger symptoms, which may lead to muscle spasms surrounding the airways, called bronchospasm. This contraction results in the narrowing of the space inside the airways and causes less air to pass through the lungs.

Twitchiness: The airways of an asthma patient narrows in response to asthma triggers such as cold air or exercise. This can also be called as bronchial hyperactivity.

Inflammation:  The same asthma triggers that cause bronchospasm can also cause swelling and inflammation in the inner lining of the airways. This inflammation makes the air passage sensitive to triggers. The inflammation leads to narrowing of the space that is present to pass air through the lungs.

Excess of Mucus: Mucus cleans away foreign particles from the air passages. Inflamed airways may cause too much mucus to produce, which occupies the space in the airways and make it difficult for air to pass through.

Effect Of Asthma On Brain Function

It is established that blood oxygenation is necessary for the brain to function. The human brain requires a constant flow of oxygen to work normally. Hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) is considered to be the main cause of neuronal damage and cognitive impairment. The problem occurs when the flow is disrupted and prevents the brain from performing an important biochemical function.

There is another condition called anoxia, which is characterized by the total lack of oxygen to the brain. Additionally, dyspnea (difficult breathing) episodes during asthma considered to be significant risk factors for developing brain disorders. Asthma causes due to airways thickening may result in early on to dyspnea and obstructive sleep apnea. It has been demonstrated that obstructive sleep apnea without disturbing the sleep pattern results in spatial memory impairment, brain cell death, and gliosis in adults.

Also Read: Asthma and Indoor Air Pollution

Key symptom indicators that need asthma diagnosis

Chest tightness, coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing are all signs of asthma. If you are facing these symptoms, consider seeing your health care specialist to be evaluated for asthma. Asthma diagnosis is based on several factors that include your symptoms, detailed history, a physical exam and overall test results. It is often difficult, especially in young children. In kids, a careful physical examination needs to be performed to identify the presence of asthma symptoms. Also, it is important to give appropriate information to the pediatrician to help determine if your child has asthma. For detecting your child’s  asthma, your pediatrician will need the following information:

  • Symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness
  • Triggers of asthma symptoms
  • Family background of asthma
  • Medications that are tried to relieve symptoms

Consider a diagnosis of asthma and go for spirometry (a lung function test, perform to evaluate the amount of air you inhale and exhale) if any of the following signs are present.  An asthma patient cannot identify these signs, but the occurrence of multiple signs increases the probability of a diagnosis of the condition. Spirometry is required to detect asthma. Hay fever, eczema, or family atopic diseases are associated with asthma, but they are not the indicators.

Once the problem is diagnosed, the next step is to determine how severe it is, how well your lungs function, how much the condition is affecting your life, etc. Based on the severity and triggers, your health care specialist will provide you with a treatment plan which includes asthma medications as well as ideas for avoiding triggers.

-History of any of the following conditions:

  • Recurrent wheeze
    Recurrent chest tightness
    A cough that worse at night
    Repetitive trouble breathing

-Wheezing:

The high pitch whistling sound when you exhale

-Symptoms develop or worsen in the presence of:

Pollen
Smoke or other irritants
Animals with fur on hair
Stress
Changes in the environmental conditions
Mold
Viral infection
Menstrual cycle
Exercise
House dust mites in pillows, carpets, mattresses, furniture, etc.
Airborne chemicals or dust
Strong emotional expression

Asthma Treatment

Once you are diagnosed with asthma, it is important to stay calm and work closely with your health care specialist. Your physician will provide you with an action plan that you need to follow to treat your asthma symptoms and improve breathing. The action plan includes the dosing schedule of medications, daily routine to avoid triggers, and different ways to monitor your breathing.

Anti-asthmatic drugs will be prescribed to keep airways always open as well as help reduces swelling, so air can easily pass in an out of your lungs. An asthma patient will be given an inhaler with or without a spacer. In some cases, patients will be given a pill as well as an inhaler. Here, the most important thing about controlling your asthma is that you must consume the medicine exactly as ordered by your physician. Once you start using your medications correctly and on a regular basis, you will be successful in preventing your asthma symptoms.

There are two types of asthma medications, namely short-acting, and long-acting. Short-acting medicines, including levosalbutamol or albuterol, work to relax the muscles around the airways. Long-acting corticosteroids such as beclomethasone, fluticasone, ciclesonide, mometasone, and flunisolide are formulated to decrease the swelling in your airways. These corticosteroids are given in the inhaled form and can also be given in combination with long-acting bronchodilators. These medications must be taken regularly to keep the airways open every time. Asthma has no cure; it is a long-term disease. The goal of these medications is to control asthma.

 

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