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Asthma : Causes, Symptoms & Self-Help Tips

Asthama

A common respiratory problem that usually starts during childhood, Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that narrows the airways that carry air to and from the lungs. The inner walls of the airway of an asthmatic person are always swollen or inflamed, which makes it extremely sensitive and allergic reactions. During an asthma attack, the airways narrow due to inflammation and produce excess mucus, making breathing an arduous task. A long-term condition that has no real cure, asthma can only be managed with consistent medical help and staying away from triggers.

Symptoms of asthma

The following symptoms most frequently occur during the night and the early morning

  • Wheezing (a whistling sound while breathing)
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty to breathe
  • Coughing

What is an asthma episode/ attack?

When the symptoms are more severe than usual and occur suddenly, it is known as an asthma episode. It can be mild, moderate or severe.

What happens during an asthma attack?
  • Muscles around the airways tighten up
  • Less air flows through the airway
  • Increase in Inflammation of the airways which further makes the airways narrow
  • Excess mucus than usual is produced in the airways, blocking the air flow
  • As the airways are partially blocked, lesser amount of oxygen enters the blood stream and in turn, the vital organs
  • There is a high possibility of carbon dioxide (which mandatorily needs to be expelled from the body) build-up in the lungs

What causes/ triggers asthma?

The strongest risk factors are

  • Weather changes
  • Indoor allergens
  • Pet dander
  • Pollution
  • Pollens and moulds
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Chemical irritants
  • Stress
  • Genetics

Menstrual cycle in women can also affect the severity of the attack.

Self-help tips for asthmatics

What to do

  • Seek medical help to manage the problem, always.
  • Avoid triggers - Keep one’s home and office, including the air-conditioner filters, free from dust. It is better to use a vacuum cleaner than a regular broom, as it sucks in all the dust, pet hair and dust mites.
  • Those suffering from bronchial asthma should refrain from using all kinds of canned/ aerosol sprays including misty perfumes, cleaning sprays and air fresheners
  • Avoid fruits with high sugar content like bananas and apples as they trigger the problem of mucus secretion in asthma patients.
  • Restrict fried foods and foods that are difficult to digest and stay fit.

Natural remedies
  • Maximise use of ginger as a part of diet as it can reduce the chance of allergic infections.
  • Chewing basil leaves, pepper or consuming a spoon of lemon juice mixed with honey in the morning can help reduce asthma symptoms

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