Asthma is a primary health condition affecting the airways, causing airway obstruction and constriction, often resulting in difficulty breathing. It affects--and is the leading cause of disability--5-15% of the population worldwide.
Asthma is usually managed with inhalers, other medications, and lifestyle and environmental modifications triggered by various irritants, including pollen, dust, pet dander, and cigarette smoke.
Asthma episodes can be mild and hardly noticed but can also become severe, with wheezing, breathlessness, and coughing. Early treatment of asthma symptoms can help prevent more severe episodes from occurring.
Asthma is a long-term condition with no known cure. However, improvements in treatments and therapies have allowed for better management of symptoms. Self-management and avoidance of asthma triggers are also vital to managing the condition.
Asthma can occur at any age; however, it is most common among children, whose symptoms may improve as they reach adulthood. Asthma in adults may not have the same triggers or symptoms as in children.
Common asthma signs include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and persistent coughing. In some cases, people with asthma may also experience swollen nasal passages and recurrent sinusitis.
The effects of asthma can vary depending on the individual, age, and severity of the condition. During an asthma crisis, airways may cause spasms, increasing airway obstruction and leading to a sudden increase in asthma symptoms.
Environmental factors can increase the likelihood of asthma attacks. Surveys have found that living in cities with high levels of air pollution increases the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms.
Apart from environmental triggers, people with asthma may be affected by chronic stress. Stress causes a release of hormones in the body that can trigger asthma symptoms, such as tightening of airways, coughing, or chest pain.
Being overweight, sick, or exhausted can also worsen asthma symptoms and should be avoided to stay healthy. Eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest are vital in controlling asthma attacks.
Asthma treatments have become more advanced and accessible over time. Working with a doctor and taking regular medications may help reduce the risk of asthma episodes and help people with asthma control their symptoms.