What is Asthma, Really?

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Lungs and Bronchi

Asthma is a condition that affects the respiratory system. It is characterized by constriction of the bronchi and bronchioles of the lungs usually as a result of an allergen. It is hereditary and is a form of a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which affects children more than adults.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms referred to as an asthma attack include; shortness of breath, wheezing (usually expiratory), chest tightness and coughing. If these signs and symptoms are prolonged with commencing medical treatment, death can occur.

Asthma attacks often occur during seasonal changes, periods of emotional excitation, if you have a cold or inhalation of dust, smoke, dander, pollens etc. Attacks can be very frightening, both to the individual and their loved ones as there is a fear of death due to difficulty breathing.

Despite the fact that there is no known cure for asthma, the condition can successfully be controlled with the help of your family physician.

Asthma management tips for the asthmatic:

  • Stay away from allergens.
  • Have your prescribed asthma medication in your possession at all times for use if symptoms begin so that it doesn’t worsen.
  • Seek medical attention early.
  • Treat cold aggressively so that it does not cause too much airway irritation which could trigger an asthma attack.

Asthma management tips for Caregivers:

  • Encourage and assist your loved one to keep away from asthma triggers.
  • Exhibit patience, especially during medical treatment of asthma as this, can be a long process.
  • Be knowledgeable of this condition so that you can give meaningful assistance in the event of an attack.
  • Always try to stay calm!

Never be discouraged because you are an asthmatic, remember you had no choice in the matter. The key is to be aware of your condition and aim to prevent attacks, if attacks do occur, start treatment early!

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Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com

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Karlene Smith is a Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife and currently studying her MSc in Nurse Anesthesia. Karlene likes to write about parenting, health, and relationship issues. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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