Asthma is a disease of the airways narrowing so that it makes breathing difficult. In asthma, there is inflammation of the air passages. The narrowing of he airways which carry oxygen results in reduced oxygen. This results in asthma symptoms.
Symptoms history requires a clinical assessment in as structured form with the purpose of assessing the possibility and probability of asthma.
Classic symptoms of asthma includes the following:
- symptoms of wheeze, cough, shortness of breath sob breathlessness and chest tightness, may vary with time
- symptom history indicates repeated recurrent episodes best confirmed with peak flow rates at different times (both when symptomatic and asymptomatic).
- FH family history of other atopy (atopic conditions) including eczema, hay fever allergic rhinitis.
- Pulmonary function tests PFTs also known as lung function tests include FEV1 forced expiratory volume in the first second.
- Regular peak flows rate PEFR
- Spirometry measures how much air is breathed out in one forced breath. The device is called a spirometer, attached by a cable to a patient with mouthpiece. Additionally to test and monitor the results after bronchodilator for reversibility.
Asthma risk factors & Causes
Asthma has many causes and risk factors:
- Atopy Allergy The presence of atopy or allergy is a risk factor for developing asthma eg atopic dermatitis, eczema, hay fever allergic rhinitis.
Cigarette smoke affects the airways. Smokers have a high risk of asthma. When mothers smoke in pregnancy this increases the likelihood of having asthma.
- Air Pollution & exposure
Air pollution is a current topic of discussion since this increases the risk for asthma. Also some work elements. Also some dusts (industrial or wood dusts), chemical fumes and vapours, and moulds.
- Family history
Family History Parent with asthma increases the risk by a factor of six of developing asthma.
- Respiratory infections
Respiratory problems especially viral in infancy and childhood may cause wheeze. Some infants with viral respiratory infections proceed to asthma.
- Occupational exposures
If you have asthma, exposures to certain elements in the workplace can cause asthma symptoms. And, for some people, exposure to certain dusts (industrial or wood dusts), chemical fumes and vapors, and molds can cause asthma to develop for the very first time.
Children and adults who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk of asthma. Although the reasons are unclear, some experts point to low-grade inflammation in the body that occurs with extra weight. Obese patients often use more medications, suffer worse symptoms and are less able to control their asthma than patients in a healthy weight range.
Complications of Asthma
Rarely asthma may develop complications:
- Lung infection known as pneumonia.
- Lung collapse partial or total
- respiratory failure, low oxygen level, or raised carbon dioxide
- severe asthma unresponsive to treatment known as status asthmaticus,
The following are in the prevention plan for asthma patients:
- Vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia : Vaccinations can prevent flu and pneumonia from triggering asthma flare-ups.
- Agree an asthma action plan : Agree with your doctor an action plan. Then follow your action plan.
- Identify and avoid triggers : These include allergens and irritants Avoid those triggers by staying indoors when the pollen count is high. Keep all the windows closed. Avoid dust mites. Be aware of pet allergies. Use air filters.
- Recognise early signs by monitoring your breathing : Recognize an impending attack by considering any symptom (coughing, wheeze or sob).
- Having recognised early, treat attacks early : Act fast to reduce severity of attack.
- Medication as prescribed : Always check your medication first with your doctor.
Do you think you suffer from Asthma?
If you or your child suffers from Asthma, call Doctor Martin on 020 8209 2401 to make an appointment.
Doctor Harris is available Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 6pm.