Understand Signs and Symptoms of Asthma
Are you on the internet searching for asthma symptoms after having a mild breathing discomfort? While there can be a lot of other factors, your concern is genuine. Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition, and the earlier you identify its symptoms, the better. Given the current pandemic, which also causes respiratory issues, the fear surrounding co-morbidities like asthma is intensified.
However, we are here to help you detect the condition in its earliest stages, identify its triggers, and get adequate treatment.
So, calm your minds and start building awareness!
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a respiratory condition in which the airways to your lungs get inflamed and produce excessive mucus, making it difficult to breathe. Some individuals might be facing only a slight inconvenience, while in extreme cases, this condition can interfere with daily activities as simple as talking and walking. It is a persisting condition without a permanent cure. If symptoms are not controlled with regular treatment, it can even lead to fatal asthma attacks.
Early symptoms of asthma
The earliest symptoms of asthma are somewhat along the following lines.
- Breathlessness or shortness of breath
- A whistling sound when exhaling also called wheezing
- Excessive mucus production
- A feeling of pressure, tightness, or pain in the chest
- Irritation in the respiratory passage caused by specific stimuli
- Finding it difficult to sleep because of any or all of the symptoms mentioned above
These symptoms can be sporadic for some individuals, while they can be a constant inconvenience for others. Also, these can be further accelerated by certain triggers, which can then lead to an asthma attack.
How do you know if you are having an Asthma Attack?
Certain tell-tale signs that distinguish an asthma attack from persistent asthma problems are as follows.
- Rapid breathing and breathlessness, which hinders speech, ingestion, and sleep.
- Worsening of regular asthma symptoms.
- Symptoms aren’t relieved by your inhaler.
- Your peak flow score keeps going down than usual.
- Your fingernails or lips are turning bluish.
- Having an anxiety or panic attack.
During an asthma attack, there are certain abnormal changes occurring in your respiratory system that cause the above-mentioned symptoms. These are as follows.
- Bronchospasm: This means contraction of the bands of muscle surrounding your lungs’ airways, which normally remain relaxed. This tightening narrows the airways, making it difficult to breathe.
- Inflammation: The mucosal membrane lining your airways becomes inflamed or swollen, narrowing these passages further.
- Excessive mucus production: The inflamed linings of your airways secrete a greater quantity of mucus which also has a thicker consistency than usual.
Such conditions can be further complicated in case of co-existing respiratory infections like common cold or influenza. Additionally, having a pre-existing condition like asthma makes you more susceptible to the ongoing pandemic.
What are the Symptoms of Asthma in Children?
This is a concerning topic since it can be very difficult for parents to spot the first signs of asthma in their children, especially when they have no history of the same. The trouble generally occurs since most of these symptoms can be mistaken for regular viral infection or after-effects of its recovery.
However, there are certain symptoms you can watch out for in case your child suffers excessively from cough and cold.
- Breathing problems that occur during regular activities like playing and exercising.
- Lingering cough that accelerates in cold weather and with viral infections.
- Viral infections take a longer time to heal or lead to the formation of bronchitis.
- Breathlessness, wheezing and coughing that hinder sleep.
These may or may not be accompanied by the tell-tale signs of asthma, like chest congestion, persistent shortness of breath, etc., and can vary across children. Often, children get life-long asthma from a severe case of respiratory infection like bronchitis. This is why it is also referred to as bronchial asthma.
Irrespective of the age group, it is important to observe and look out for specific triggers that cause or worsen these asthma symptoms to prevent any life-threatening situation.
Why do Infections Trigger Asthma Symptoms?
To understand why respiratory infections may worsen the signs and symptoms of asthma, you must first know in detail what this condition entails. Asthma involves inflammation of the bronchial tubes or the lower airways of your lungs.
During normal respiration, you inhale air through your nose and trachea into your bronchial tubes that divide into smaller tubes. These tubes end up in tiny air sacs called alveoli, responsible for removing carbon dioxide from the blood and delivering oxygen.
When you develop sinusitis, catch a cold, or have the flu, these viruses affect your upper airways, causing irritation and inflammation in the throat and nose. This further complicates the condition of your chronically sensitive airways and makes breathing increasingly difficult. This, in turn, is likely to trigger an asthma attack giving rise to conditions like bronchoconstriction, inflammation, and excessive mucus production.
Prevention and Treatment
Many individuals live in fear and even shy away from diagnosis, knowing there isn’t any permanent cure for this respiratory condition.
However, several preventive measures and treatments, when followed religiously, can help relieve asthma symptoms remarkably.
Here are some of the preventive measures you can follow.
- Limit exposure to triggers: It is very important to identify, at the earliest, what worsens your symptoms and avoid them.
- Get the vaccines for viral respiratory infections: Getting yourself vaccinated against pneumonia and influenza to prevent these infections from worsening your condition.
- Regularly monitor your peak airflow: You can ask your medical professional to help you measure your peak airflow at home from time to time. This is the primary indicator of your lung function since it may start decreasing much before any visible symptoms.
- Identify early attack signs: Learn to recognise warning signs of an oncoming asthma attack for early treatment.
- Follow your treatment routine rigorously: Make sure to take all medications and practice other treatments as prescribed.
Some of the treatments prescribed by medical practitioners include:
- Control medications
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Breathing exercises
- Bronchial thermoplasty
If you find yourself using the inhaler too frequently, it is a sign that your asthma symptoms are not under control. Under such circumstances, consult your physician at the earliest.
What to do if you think you are having Symptoms?
Many individuals tend to ignore the early and mild symptoms of asthma, thinking they will go away on their own. However, you need to understand that this is a long-term health condition, and a diagnosis is absolutely indispensable. If you find yourself displaying any of the early symptoms of asthma, as mentioned on this list, consult a healthcare professional without delay. He/she can suggest a proper treatment plan that can not only prevent fatal asthma attacks but also help you lead a symptom-free life.
After all, you do not want to miss out on that mountain trip, right?
Disclaimer: All information in this article is collected from authority medical websites and government portals.