What should one do if they suffer from asthma? Find out the best treatment options from the experts at Drs. Nicolas & Asp
15 October 2018| Last updated on 16 October 2018
Asthma is generally classified as a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by recurring episodes of reversible airway obstruction of variable severity, which can be resolved with treatment or spontaneously.
Children can develop "early," "late" or "persistent" wheezing. For some of these children, wheezing symptoms stop before the age three years. Asthma in children and adolescents causes more absences from school than any other chronic illness.
Asthma is a complex genetic disorder. Environmental factors as well as atopy and prenatal and postnatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, are associated with an increased risk for the development of asthma.
Interestingly, a large study also indicated that early exposure of young children to other children, either at home or at a childcare center, is related to a decreased incidence of wheezing as the child grows.
Symptoms of Asthma include wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing, especially at night or after exercise and activity are. Inflammation may be reversible, with or without drugs.
The asthma attack can occur without wheezing and is associated with other symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness.
Causes of Asthma
- Respiratory infections
- Allergens: Allergens can be food, pollen, grass, trees, pet dander, mold, cockroaches or dust mites.
- Irritants: Cigarette smoke, cold air, chemicals, perfumes, varnishes smells, hairspray and air pollutants.
- Weather conditions
- Emotional factors
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease is associated with asthma
- Airway inflammation in the upper respiratory tract (including the nasal passages and sinuses)
- Nocturnal asthma.
Tests used to diagnose asthma
Lung function test, mainly spirometry, is used to check the performance of the lungs. However, in children younger than five years, the results are usually not reliable.
A peak flow meter is a simple device that is used to measure the peak flow of air coming from the lungs when a child is asked to blow into it. Also, chest X-ray can be done if asthma does not respond to conventional therapy. Allergy tests (Rast) can identify the factors to which the child is allergic, as these factors may contribute to asthma.
Asthma control can be assessed using indices including symptoms, use of medication, activity limitation, along with lung function tests, bronchial hyperactivity or inflammatory markers.
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The drugs that are available fall into two general categories:
Controllers or Preventers which are used in the long term on a daily basis to prevent asthma attacks: These include inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting bronchodilators and leukotriene inhibitors.
Relievers are the category of medications that provide instant relief from symptoms: These are short-acting bronchodilators and corticosteroids delivered by mouth or injections.
In general, therapy begins with high doses of drugs to treat acute asthma attacks and then there is a gradual decrease to prevent asthma attacks so that the child can have a normal life.
The severity of asthma in children may worsen or improve over time, so the type (category) of the child's asthma can change, which means that a different treatment may be needed over time. Assessment should include questions regarding symptoms, exacerbations, school absence, compliance check, and inhaler technique, measurement of height and weight annually.