Asthma is a condition in which the airways in your lungs become narrow, swell, and often produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing), and shortness of breath.
While asthma can not be cured, symptoms can be managed with the help of medications and knowing how to avoid your triggers.
Symptoms Associated with Asthma
Asthma symptoms will vary from person to person. You may notice that your symptoms increase only with certain activities such as exercise, or you may experience symptoms all the time. Be aware of the following asthma signs and symptoms including:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Wheezing when exhaling, which is a common sign of asthma in children
- Trouble sleeping is caused by shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing
- Coughing or wheezing attacks are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as cold or the flu
Triggers that Lead to Asthma Flare-Ups
While there are various factors into what can trigger an individual’s asthma, some common asthma triggers include:
- Food sensitivities, such as dried fruits or foods high in preservatives
- Dust mites & insects
- Allergies & pollen
- Air quality & pollution
- Strong odors or fragrant perfumes
- Weather changes, such as high humidity or dry air
The most common of these triggers affect those suffering from exercise-induced asthma, which may be worse when the air is cold and dry.
For those people working in various manufacturing industries, they may suffer from occupational asthma triggers that are a result of their workplace and include irritants such as gasses, dust, and chemical fumes.
Allergy-induced asthma is also very common and is usually triggered by airborne substances. These irritants include things such as pollen, mold spores, cockroach waste, or pet dander. People with asthma need to keep their homes, especially the area where they sleep, clean and free of triggers that could provoke an asthma attack.
Some people experience mild, infrequent symptoms and may only need quick-relief medications. Others suffer from frequent and persistent symptoms that require long-term controller medications.
Quick-relief or rescue medications will do just that, help you immediately in the event of an asthma attack. These types of medications are used to treat sudden asthma symptoms by relaxing the muscles around the airways of your lungs. Rescue medication sare commonly delivered by an inhaler but can also be in liquid form for use with a nebulizer. It is important to always keep your rescue inhaler with you.
Long-term or controller medications are the second type of medications used to treat asthma. Controller medications are taken daily, regardless of symptoms being present. Their job is to prevent future asthma attacks by reducing the inflammation in the airways over time. They can be given in the form of inhalers, pills, or even injections.
Whether your asthma diagnosis is new, or if you have been coping with it for years, it is important to be mindful of the associated triggers and symptoms that can lead to an asthma attack.
Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if you feel your medications are not controlling your asthma attacks. A severe asthma attack can be life-threatening. Signs of needing emergent asthma treatment include:
- Rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
- No improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler
- Shortness of breath when you are doing minimal physical activity
Asthma is an ongoing condition that needs regular monitoring and treatment. Taking control of your treatment can make you feel more in control of your life.