Respiratory problems are the most comment ailments that affect people today and it is not surprising that 2.63 crore people in India suffer from acute respiratory disease as of 2013. Of these cases, almost a quarter is because of asthma. At present 25% of the Indian population suffers from allergies and 5% of those people suffer from allergies that lead to asthma. It is estimated that by the year 2025 an additional 100 million people will be asthmatic the world over. Hence, there is a dire need for awareness about this debilitating respiratory illness.
Asthma is a chronic life-long condition where a person finds it difficult to breathe because the tubes that take air into the lungs swell up. This reaction is caused because the airway comes in contact with an asthma trigger (an allergen) that causes it to swell up. Although asthma can be managed to live a normal healthy lifestyle, the more one learns about their condition, the better they can manage their condition to maintain their quality of life.
Asthma has been seen to run in families. If both parents have asthma, it is most likely their children will also have asthma.
Pollen allergies have been seen to be the most common cause of asthma worldwide, though dust allergies have been seen to come close in comparison to this. These allergies are external or extrinsic. Internal or intrinsic asthma is caused when a reaction takes place when one inhales a chemical substance such as cigarette smoke, paint vapors, etc. Most of these reactions can also be affected by emotional responses such as stress and panic.
As the lungs develop in infancy and early childhood there are certain respiratory infections that have been shown to cause inflammation and damage the lung tissue. The damage to the lung tissue caused in infancy and early childhood can impact lung function in long-term
Some of the symptoms of asthma are:
•Cough with or without sputum (phlegm) production
•Chest tightness – pulling in of the skin between the ribs when breathing
•Wheezing – a musical, whistling, or hissing sound with breathing.
•Comes in episodes with symptom-free periods in between
•Worse at night or early in the morning
•May subside on its own
•Gets worse with exercise and heartburn
•Gets better with drugs that open the airways
Most of these reactions can also be affected by emotional responses such as stress and panic. The responses to the allergens can be of two types: delayed hypersensitive response (where the person experiences symptoms after a long period of time) and an instant hypersensitive response (where the person immediately develops symptoms of the allergen). Despite the severity of the reaction, care must be taken to treat the individual involved.
Though there is no cure for asthma, certain measures can be taken as a form of treatment, depending on the severity of the asthmatic attack:
•Drugs can be taken to counteract the effects of asthma. These are usually steroids and must be taken regularly.
•Massaging mustard oil with camphor over the chest loosens the mucus and helps in easy breathing during an asthma attack.
•Homeopathic remedies also exist that can be used to counter the various symptoms of asthma
With the rise in asthma cases every day, these measures could help patients cope over their lifetimes and ultimately live fulfilling lives without hindrance.
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