You might have heard of asthma before, but do you know what it is and how it works? In short, asthma is a chronic lung condition that makes breathing difficult. It’s caused by inflammation in the airways, which makes them sensitive to specific triggers—like pollen, pets, cold air, or even exercise—and causes them to constrict. This narrowing makes it hard to get air in and out of the lungs, leading to wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. If you’re dealing with asthma, you’re not alone; it’s a common condition that affects people of all ages. Keep reading to learn more about how it works.
What Causes Asthma?
While the exact cause of asthma is unknown, medical practitioners know that it’s primarily due to genetics. This means that if you have asthma, there’s a good chance that someone in your family does too. Several environmental factors, like air pollution or secondhand smoke, can play a role. And finally, specific triggers can bring on an asthma attack, like allergens (like pet dander or pollen), cold air, exercise, or respiratory infections.
What Are the Symptoms of Asthma?
The most common symptom of asthma is difficulty breathing. This can be accompanied by other symptoms like coughing (especially at night), wheezing, and shortness of breath. Some people only experience these symptoms when exposed to their triggers; others have them all the time. If you think you might be dealing with asthma, you must see a doctor so they can diagnose you and put together a treatment plan.
How Is Asthma Treated?
Asthma cannot be cured, but treatments can help manage the symptoms and lessen the frequency and severity of attacks. Here are some of the most common ways asthma is treated:
Dealing With Allergies
Asthma and allergies usually go hand-in-hand. With that being said, there are some steps you can take to limit your exposure to allergens that trigger asthma attacks. Here are those ways:
First, it’s essential to get tested, especially if you think you have food allergies. This allergy can lead to asphyxiation, which is lethal if not treated properly. Ensure that you go under food allergy and sensitivity testing. This test will help determine what kind of food or ingredient triggers your asthma.
Avoid Your Triggers
Once you know the allergens that trigger your asthma, it’s best to avoid them altogether. However, this can be difficult if they’re a part of your day-to-day life—for instance if your allergies are triggered by pollen or dust mites, and you live in a rural area. In these cases, it’s best to get an air purifier that filters out allergens and microorganisms from the air. These small devices can help reduce your risk of asphyxiation and reduce asthma attacks’ severity.
Lastly, some patients find that immunotherapy can be helpful. This treatment involves allergy shots that expose you to your allergens in small doses, so you become more resistant to them over time.
If you have asthma, what you eat might make a difference. For example, avoiding dairy, gluten, and processed foods can help identify which ingredients trigger your asthma. You can also consider fasting if you think your asthma is triggered by inflammation.
One of the leading causes of why more people have asthma in the U.S. is pollutants. These pollutants come in the form of gases, which you can breathe in to produce asthma. As a general rule, try to avoid places with strong air pollutants. This includes near highways or factories that release large amounts of chemicals into the environment.
Additionally, you should be careful with indoor air. Studies have found that indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air, which can trigger asthma. This means it’s best to invest in an air filter for your home and keep the windows open as much as possible.
Lastly, where you live might also play a role in whether you develop asthma. Some studies have found that people who live in urban areas are more likely to develop asthma than those who do not. If your asthma worsens, consider moving to a new city or a rural town.
Living With Asthma
As mentioned earlier, living with asthma isn’t easy—it comes with many challenges and frustrations. But with the proper medical care, monitoring, and treatment, you can manage your asthma symptoms and live a full life. Just remember to stay vigilant, avoid your triggers as much as possible, and make sure you see your doctor regularly. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to living an asthma-free life!