What is Asthma?

Asthma is a very common disorder that comes in many types. It is a chronic disease that affects the airway and makes breathing difficult. Asthma can have a lot of different triggers that result in narrowing of the airway.

Some people who have asthma feel that it interferes in their life a lot, others experience minor interference from their asthma symptoms.


What are the Symptoms of Asthma?

The symptoms experienced by people with asthma vary greatly depending on the severity of their condition.

Symptoms include

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Decreased activity
  • Inability to talk

There are three main aspects to asthma that make it an extremely scary disorder.

Obstruction of the Airway

During unobstructed breathing, the airway and the bands surrounding it are relaxed. Air is able to move in and out freely. In people who have asthma, the bands of the airway tighten up air is no longer able to move in and out of the respiratory system freely which triggers asthma symptoms.


People who have asthma usually present with inflamed, red bronchial tubes. Over time, this can cause long-term damage to the lungs. This is why treating even mild symptoms is necessary in preventing worsening symptoms.

Irritable Airway

The airway of an asthmatic is very sensitive. Their airway tends to overreact to the smallest trigger, including mild allergies.

Asthma Causes

The cause of asthma is multifactorial with an interaction between a myriad of susceptibility genes and other environmental factors working together to determine if, and to what severity, the popular chronic disease might manifest. T-helper1 and 2 cells, IgE, GM-CSF, cytokines, TNF, and the ADAM33 gene are the susceptibility genes thought to play a role in development. For example, they may help to stimulate the smooth muscle of the airway or assist with fibroblast proliferation.

The possible environmental factors which might have significance in asthma are diverse indeed. Allergen exposure is one of the well-proven factors, and studies have shown that the common household allergens such as those from dust mites, cockroaches, and pet dander can cause adverse reactions. As far as diet is concerned, it is important that vitamin C and E intake meets the proper levels. Also, obesity has been linked to asthma as well. Cigarette smoke exposure is still somewhat controversial, with some studies seeming to show that exposed children can manifest asthma while other studies possibly disprove this line of thought.

How is Asthma Treated?

Treatment varies dramatically depending on the type of asthma is present. Since poorly controlled asthma can be extremely dangerous, proper treatment is essential to a patient’s ability to thrive. Asthma causes more than 2 million emergency room visits annually.

Treatment includes

Treatment for asthma may include the use of inhalers, treating allergies, steroids and anti-inflammatory medications to help. Some patients who have asthma may be able to take a pill daily. Other patients may be required to use an inhaler twice to three times daily. Severe asthmatics may be required to take more than one inhaler daily and keep a rescue inhaler on their person at all time to catch asthma symptoms before they become out of control.

Other asthmatics may be required to change the type of inhaler they use on a regular basis to ensure that it can be counted on to relieve their immediate asthma symptoms.

Asthma Prevention

In order to prevent asthma and allergies, it is important to limit the exposure by reducing the number of sources and using tools such as filters which can further eliminate air pollution. Pregnant women should be sure to provide for a healthy duration because many perinatal factors can collaborate to bring on asthma. Young maternal age, low birthweight, and prematurity are some examples of these sources. Diets should be diverse and nutritious while providing the proper amount of vitamins C and E as well as fatty acids. Endotoxin exposure has been shown to induce tolerance if done early in life, and so there may be profitable directions to explore there which could help to guard against the chronic condition.