Asthma

March 2017

Typical symptoms of asthma


Asthma can affect people in varying degrees and for most their symptoms are mild to moderate and can be easily treated.

Common presenting symptoms


  • Firstly asthma is hereditary and is part of the atopy family along side eczema and hay fever. Some will have all 3 atopic conditions some have just one.
  • Dry persistent coughing episodes. They can arise from a simple cold, or be apparent for no particular reason often developing over several weeks, several months or even years. Evenings and during the night are classic times for the cough to be more apparent as well as at times of increased activity.
  • Many people often ignore the cough as it can be mild and only slightly irritating. They will live with the symptoms for many years and will attribute it to old age or being less fit. As a result a diagnosis can be delayed for many years as people don't present to their GP.
  • Recurrent episodes of bronchitis can cause asthma.
  • Breathlessness and wheezing often occurs on exertion or following contact with allergens.
  • Due to the night time cough symptoms, some adults or children can present with simple tiredness. This can be as a result of airway narrowing and not getting restful nights sleep.



With the right treatment ssthma is completely treatable therefore, leaving people symptom free day and night. However, if left untreated, or poorly managed, long term remodelling of the airways can occur and symptoms are persistent and can eventually lead to respiratory failure
.


Acute Asthma attack


An acute asthmatic attack: is life threatening and urgent medical help must be sort. Breathing is very difficult and even talking in simple sentences is a struggle. A cough can sometimes be present and the classic whistling wheezy noises can be heard. If very severe the wheezing noises have often stopped.

Asthma statistics


8% of adults have asthma.
300 million people world wide have asthma.
1 in 2 asthmatics go undiagnosed for many years

Asthma and allergy


Allergens are the biggest contributing factor to asthma symptoms.
  • An allergy is found in more than 80% of asthmatic children and in more than 60% of asthmatic adults.
  • Allergens such as: dust mites, pollens, latex, moulds, medicine, insects, anaesthetics, food and many more can cause asthma.

Other factors that intervene in the appearance of asthma

  • Family and genetic predisposition.
  • Repetitive viral infections, especially in children under 5.
  • Active and passive smoking.
  • Cold and dry air.
  • Exertion.
  • Stress.
  • Exposure to non-specific irritants: paintings, solvents, aerosols.
  • Air pollution.

Asthma caused by exertion

  • Asthma caused by exertion is frequent and occurs in 80% of asthmatic people. The airways naturally open during exercise to allow more oxygen in. In asthmatics either during or after exercise the airways narrow causing a tight breathless feeling in the lungs. People struggle to catch their breath and often a wheezing whistling noise can be hear.
  • Asthma commonly presents itself for the first time during an episode of exertion. These attacks can be mild to severe.
  • The diagnosis of asthma caused by exertion is carried out by thorough questioning, reversibility testing performed by your GP and a trial of medication.


For further information

http://www.asthma.org.uk
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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