Difficulty Breathing? Maybe it’s Asthma.

Asthma – most everyone has heard this term or knows someone who has it, but what exactly is asthma? In lay terms, Asthma is a constriction or narrowing of the airways and an increase in mucus production. As a result, it makes it hard for air to enter and to exit the lungs, causing shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. These symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening and an attack can be triggered by many things.

Man Using an Inhaler

Common causes of an asthma attack:

  1. Exercise
  2. Environmental causes such as chemicals or dust
  3. Various types of allergic reactions ranging from pet dander, certain foods, pollen and even secondhand smoke

Asthma is a chronic disease, like many others. In other words, there is no cure, but the goal is to control it so that flare-ups are infrequent and not severe. Part of the control is to determine what the triggers are and avoid those as much as possible. When breathing becomes difficult, a physician would often prescribe a “rescue” inhaler – one that is used when symptoms become worse, so that immediate relief is obtained. Of course, like any medication, it needs to be utilized properly and there may be times when it is not effective, and then emergency treatment may be needed.

There needs to be ongoing vigilance with asthma – the disease may change over time, there may be a need to change medications to manage the symptoms, or there may be other issues causing a worsening of flare-ups. There may even be long term lung damage, leading to the need to use oxygen therapy.

Always remember, even if you have a chronic disease, you are NEVER the only one with that condition. There are treatment options, support groups on-line or in the community, and techniques to help you control your symptoms.

Have you or a loved one had any experiences with an Asthma attack?

Stay tuned for more information on adapting to lung diseases, types of treatments and even support systems. Let’s all breathe a little easier.

Author: Cheryl A. Acres RN, CCM


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