Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lung airways that causes coughing, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath. According to the World Health Organization, WHO, there are more than 235 million people with asthma in the world. The Asthma Society of Canada explains that the disease is related to two factors: inflammation of the airways and bronchoconstriction (the twitching and tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways). When these muscles tighten, it leads to difficulty breathing and bouts of coughing.
Several factors increase the risk of developing asthma. One of the most common is allergies. Up to 80 percent of children with persistent asthma have allergies, coming into contact with one of these allergens can trigger asthma symptoms.
Below are some facts about asthma you should know;
- People who experience frequent respiratory infections during childhood are more likely to develop asthma.
- Although asthma is not entirely hereditary, if at least one of your parents takes medication to treat asthma or allergies, you are more likely to have asthma.
- You are more likely to have asthma if you live in a city where the air is polluted or if you live near a factory that releases pollutants into the air.
- Being an adult doesn’t mean you’ll never have asthma. People who are exposed over the years to certain substances in their workplace are more at risk of developing asthma.
- A cough, especially a dry cough, is one of the most frequent symptoms of asthma. Sometimes it occurs only at night or during physical activity.
- Asthma medications are not addictive; the corticosteroids used to reduce inflammation are not the same as damaging anabolic steroids.
- A person who wheezes makes a whistling noise while inhaling and exhaling. This noise is caused by the narrowing of the respiratory tract. While this sound is often caused by bronchitis, chronic wheezing is associated with asthma and requires medical attention.
- Some people with asthma feel tightness in the chest. This symptom can be a sign of stress and anxiety, but can also indicate asthma, especially if it occurs after physical exertion or at night. It’s always wise to see your doctor if you feel tightness in your chest for the first time.
- If you run up a flight of stairs and you never exercise, it’s normal to be out of breath. On the other hand, if you constantly feel like you’re out of breath, this could be a sign of asthma, especially if you also have a cough. Some people with asthma experience such extreme shortness of breath that it wakes them up at night.
- Exercising can trigger asthma attacks in people who have not yet been diagnosed with asthma. However, people with asthma should not avoid exercising.
- If you have asthma, or you think you might have it, watch out for certain symptoms that will require a visit to the emergency room. For instance, if you have difficulty breathing and you notice that your lips or the tips of your fingers have turned blue
- Apart from medications, there are several complementary treatments for asthma. One of the most common is yoga.