What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that can affect you for the rest of your life. Asthma attacks can vary from mild to life-threatening. The disease is divided into two types, allergic (extrinsic) asthma, and non-allergic (intrinsic) asthma.
Allergic (extrinsic) asthma is caused by an allergic reaction and is the most common form of asthma. It is reversible to some extent by medication. Inhaling allergens such as mold, pollens, pet dander, and dust mites can set off an asthma attack.
Non-allergic (intrinsic) asthma is caused by factors not connected to allergies. Non-allergic asthma attacks are caused by factors such as anxiety, stress, exercise, cold air, hyperventilation, smoke viruses or other irritants.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms for allergic and non-allergic asthma are coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs become inflamed and swollen. The muscles around the airways tighten, and less air passes in and out of the lungs. Excess mucus forms in the airways, which clogs them even more.
How is it diagnosed?
Asthma is difficult to diagnose. Regular physical exams, lung function tests, and discussions with your physician on your personal and family medical history help to reach a correct diagnosis.
How is it treated?
Asthma sufferers are prescribed medications that may be either inhaled or in pill form. They are divided into two types - quick relief and long-term control. Quick relief medications are used to control immediate symptoms of an asthma attack. Long-term medications are used to lessen the frequency and severity of attacks over time. Attacks can be avoided by removing the triggers in your environment and by avoiding these same triggers in other places.