Asthma

asthma in children

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of asthma

 Globally, asthma is prevalent in more than 200 million people.

This has directly impacted the health and economy of India in the last few years. More than ten times a day we come across people battling to breathe. Question is, why do they fail to inhale and exhale with equal ease like others? Strugglers and onlookers both, in most cases, are not conscious, though not completely ignorant of the world threatening menace – “asthma”.People normally mistake it for a temporary breathlessness due to over-exhaustion or mental pressure.This allows the disease to insidiously worm its way into the apparently healthy lives.

What is the current global statistics?

childhood asthma onsetNearly 8% of the present global population suffers from the disease and some related syndromes. It is really shocking that more children (~58%) than adults (~51%) have already experienced asthmatic attacks. This staggering figure serves as a warning to the rest of the living, “breathing” population.

Definition of Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory disorder in which sudden spasm attacks occur in the bronchi or lungs, causing disrupted airflow in the intrapulmonary tract. The disease is accompanied by breathlessness and is believed to be caused due to allergic agents, constitutional defects, and other environmental factors.

Causes of Asthma

It is difficult to pinpoint a particular cause of asthmatic syndromes since the factors differ from one patient to another. The very common causes of the disease are as follows:

  • Allergens like pollen grains, animal dander, dust mites etc.
  • Respiratory disorders like congestion, cold and flu
  • Excessive physical activity
  • Air pollutants like smoke and particulates
  • Few drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • Preservatives and chemicals in food
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) caused due to stomach acids rushing up to the throat

What are the warning signs?

asthma causesThe symptoms of the disease are quite clear and conspicuous. So every time a person suffers from an attack, the following symptoms must be easily identified-

  • Sudden shortage of breath
  • Pain, and compressed feeling in the chest
  • A wheezing cough
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Feeling of extreme fatigue and weakness

Types of asthma

Asthma is a long-term menace and might appear in different forms. These types can be roughly categorized as (i) Extrinsic  (triggered by external agents) and (ii) Intrinsic  (caused due to internal factors). The most popular types are discussed below:

Cough-induced asthma: It is a common variant of the disease where a dry, persistent cough occurs without secretion of mucus. But this type is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to that of common cold and cough, bronchitis, sinusitis and viral fever. The constant coughing leads to interrupted sleep at night.

Exercise-induced asthma: It mainly occurs due to physical exertion and is very much dependent on the fitness of the body. A person suffering from this kind of respiratory syndrome experiences difficulty in inhaling air properly due to inflammation of the bronchial tubes and the expulsion of mucus.

Environment-induced asthma: The intensity of this respiratory disease hinges on the type of environment a person is exposed to. For instance, factory workers are exposed to toxic chemicals and gases throughout the year, which leads to asthmatic tendencies. Residents of urban areas have greater risks of the disease due to the constant contact with particulates, dust particles, pollutants emitted from vehicles and more.                                         

There is yet another classification which is done according to the age group namely- (a) Child onset asthma and (b) Adult-onset asthma. These are elaborated below:

Childhood-onset asthma: This disease that starts at the early stage of childhood. Nearly 95% of people have been said to experience their first asthmatic attack before the age of 6. Both genetic (parental history of asthma) and environmental factors (house dust mites, animal proteins, pollens) come to play in this case. Childhood-onset asthma also occurs due to viral and bacterial infections.

Adult-onset asthma: This particular type is evident mainly in women within the age bracket of 18-65 years. It is mainly caused due to atopic and allergic tendencies developed at a much later stage. Research results suggest that the female sex hormones play a major role in the development of adult-onset asthmatic syndromes.

What are the long-term health impacts of asthma?

Asthma if not detected and diagnosed in the premature stage, might take a toll on the body in the future. Chronic inflammation of respiratory channels has been found in asthma patients above the age of 50. Permanent damage to lung and bronchi might take place which will invariably interfere with the healthy living of an individual.

What role do the genes play?

Unlike most of the other diseases, heredity plays a key role in asthmatic syndromes and the related respiratory disorders. A person having a parental history of respiratory problems is three times more likely to evince asthmatic symptoms at a sooner or later stage.

A typical allergic syndrome that is passed on from generation to generation is “Atopy”, that evidently predisposes an individual to the disease. Asthma genes and gene complexes identified till date are – ADAM33, PHF11, DPP10,GRPA, and SPINK5. Among these genes, the ones controlling environmental risk factors are – DPP10, GRPA and SPINK5.

Treatment & Prevention

asthma symptomsThere are no known cures for asthma. The only way to deal with this condition is managing the symptoms and avoiding asthma attack triggers.

Medication for asthma falls into two broad categories- short-term medication and long-term medication.

Short-term medications are usually prescribed in case of acute asthma attacks which relax the tightened chest muscles and allow proper breathing.

People who suffer from asthma should always carry an inhaler with them. Long-term asthma medications work by preventing asthmatic symptoms to surface. Discontinuity in long-term medications can result in worsening of the condition.

In order to prevent asthma attacks, one should avoid trigger and allergens. Allergens that mainly cause asthmatic attacks are pollen, spores, dust mites, pet hair and dander, cold air, environmental pollutants. In addition to these, sudden intense physical activities, stress, strong emotional response, and even GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) can cause asthma attacks. People with asthma should refrain from consuming processed foods because the chemicals present in preservatives such as sulfites tend to trigger asthma attacks.

With each passing day, the slow and simmering effects of the disease are palpable all over the world. Rapid industrial development witnesses growth and prosperity on one hand and a steep decline of human health on the other, asthma is one of the critical instances. A complete cure of the disease seems impossible unless sustainable environmental conditions are established. Doctors all over the world are recommending a “healthy and green” way of life over “medications” to recuperate from this life-threatening respiratory disorder. “Breathe and let breathe” is most definitely the mission the world is looking forward to at the moment.

Asthma home remedies

In addition, the bronchodilators and inhalers prescribed to the asthma patient, the following home remedies can also be applied to reduce the congestion and ease breathing:

  • In case of wheezing and chest congestion, rub a mixture of powdered camphor and mustard oil on the chest. This will help in attaining quick relief from troubled breathing.
  • Another effective way of clearing up the air pathways is to add few drops of eucalyptus oil in steaming water and inhale this steam.
  • You can also soak dried figs overnight and eat the soaked figs the next morning and drink the water to reduce the frequency of asthmatic attacks.
  • Ginger and honey together form a powerful combination in treating asthmatic symptoms. Mix ginger juice in warm water along with a teaspoon of honey and drink it 2-3 times a day to attain relief from congestion and breathlessness.
  • Include omega-3 fatty acids rich foods in your diet to reduce inflammation in your respiratory tract. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fish are rich sources of omega 3.

TL;DR?

Facts

  • With more than 235 million people suffering from it worldwide, asthma is one of the leading non-communicable diseases in the world.
  • 80% of asthma-related deaths occur in middle and low-income countries. Children are most affected by this condition.

Facts

  • Asthma cannot be cured. It can be only treated and managed.
  • Avoiding asthma triggers can help decrease the severity of the attacks.

Facts

  • The main triggers of asthma are cold air and dust, emotional outbursts, and intense physical workouts.
  • According to WHO, roughly 383,000 deaths occurred due to severe asthmatic attacks.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Keep your house dust-free and get rid of animal hair and dander.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises and meditation.
  • Protect yourself from mould, spores, cold air, and infections
Don'ts
  • Expose yourself to fumes from industrial chemicals, paints, and solvents.
  • Indulge in intensive physical activities.
  • Consume foods that are too cold or have added color and preservatives.

 

 

 

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What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
pilonidal sinus
Pilonidal sinus Pilonidal sinus is more common in young men than women. Learn about treatment options, surgical management, risks, and…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
CBC blood test
CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test refers to the test that measures the number of RBCs, WBCs, etc…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Oil of Oregano: The one-stop essential oil you’ve been looking for Are you plagued by a weak immune system? High body inflammation accompanied by pain and infections? Why not…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It was…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Bone marrow aspiration Bone marrow aspiration is a process where a sample of the bone marrow is withdrawn from the bone…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
lipase test
Lipase Test A lipase test is a blood test performed to quantitatively measure the level of the enzyme lipase in…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Sushi: health benefits and recipes Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish prepared with vinegared rice served with fish (often raw), vegetables, and other…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…