Lung Care

To mark the oc­ca­sion of World Asthma Day in May, here’s a lowdown on all you need to know about adult asthma.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

All you need to know about adult asthma on World Asthma Day

Asthma is still thought of as a child­hood dis­ease. But asthma can de­velop even in late adult­hood, and by all in­di­ca­tions the con­di­tion is be­com­ing more com­mon at all ages. Late-on­set asthma of­ten goes un­rec­og­nized be­cause asthma symp­toms over­lap with those of other res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tions. There is a strong feel­ing that asthma is more preva­lent now than it was 10 or 20 years ago, ac­cord­ing to the pul­monary func­tion lab­o­ra­tory at The Cleve­land Clinic. Mul­ti­ple fac­tors prob­a­bly are in­volved. We’ve been more ag­gres­sive in look­ing for it, the en­vi­ron­ment has changed, and we’ve pushed the en­ve­lope in treat­ing milder cases be­cause we’re con­cerned about what will hap­pen on a long-term ba­sis if we don’t.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic in­flam­ma­tory dis­or­der of the air­ways. It is char­ac­ter­ized by cough­ing, tight­ness in the chest, short­ness of breath, and/ or wheez­ing. In asthma, in­flam­ma­tion makes the air­ways, or bronchial tubes, ex­tra-sen­si­tive to al­ler­gy­caus­ing sub­stances (al­ler­gens) and other ir­ri­tants. When the bronchial tubes re­act, they be­come nar­rower, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to breathe. As asthma wors­ens, mus­cles around the tubes tighten, the air­ways be­come more in­flamed and cells with the tubes pro­duce large amounts of mu­cus. The re­sult is even nar­rower air­way pas­sages and more breath­ing dif­fi­culty. Asthma at­tacks can be pro­voked by a va­ri­ety of trig­gers, in­clud­ing al­ler­gens, ir­ri­tants (such as smoke from a fire­place), gas­troe­sophageal re­flux dis­ease (GERD), ex­er­cise, res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions and even a blast of cold air. In some peo­ple, cer­tain medicines can cause an air­way re­ac­tion, in­clud­ing eye drops used to treat glau­coma, an­giotensin-con­vert­ing en­zyme (ACE) in­hibitors taken for hy­per­ten­sion, as­pirin, ibupro­fen and naproxen. Stress can make asthma symp­toms worse.

Get­ting The Right Di­ag­no­sis

If you have per­sis­tent cough­ing, wheez­ing, or short­ness of breath, talk with your doc­tor. Asthma can be dif­fi­cult to di­ag­nose in peo­ple with co-ex­ist­ing bron­chi­tis or em­phy­sema, and it’s pos­si­ble to have these con­di­tions at the same time. An asthma spe­cial­ist will take a de­tailed med­i­cal his­tory, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion about your home en­vi­ron­ment. You will likely be given a pul­monary func­tion test called spirom­e­try, which mea­sures how much air you can blow out of your lungs af­ter a deep breath. Other tests may be nec­es­sary to pin down the di­ag­no­sis. These may in­clude a bronchial chal­lenge test (to pro­voke air­way nar­row­ing and then mea­sure the ef­fect on your breath­ing), al­lergy test­ing, or use of a peak flow me­ter to check your breath­ing over the course of a week or two.

Med­i­ca­tion And Self-Care

Treat­ment is tai­lored to the sever­ity of your asthma and your per­sonal health his­tory. Suc­cess­ful treat­ment also re­quires that you take an ac­tive role in your care. This in­cludes learn­ing your asthma trig­gers and try­ing to avoid them. You also need to know your body well enough to de­tect the early warn­ing signs of air­way nar­row­ing so that you can use your in­haled med­i­ca­tion im­me­di­ately to head off a ma­jor at­tack. Asthma med­i­ca­tions can be clas­si­fied into two broad types: Rapid-act­ing and long-act­ing. Rapid-act­ing agents, such as in­haled bron­chodila­tors, are used to pre­vent an im­pend­ing at­tack. They are taken at the first sign of breath­ing trou­ble and work within min­utes to open your air­ways. Long-act­ing med­i­ca­tions, such as in­haled cor­ti­cos­teroids (‘steroids’), typ­i­cally are taken daily to keep air­way in­flam­ma­tion un­der con­trol. In­haled steroids are the main­stay of asthma con­trol, and they have po­tent anti-in­flam­ma­tory ef­fects. Other types of long-

With the risks, of os­teo­poro­sis, it’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant to eat cal­ci­um­rich foods, such as dairy prod­ucts and to take cal­cium sup­ple­ments.

Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, such as brisk walk­ing and breath­ing ex­er­cises, are good for over­all health and will help re­duce the risk of os­teo­poro­sis.

act­ing med­i­ca­tions may be added if your asthma is dif­fi­cult to con­trol. In­haled cor­ti­cos­teroids are very ef­fec­tive, but they have two types of side ef­fects. The first type is lo­cal. Breath­ing med­i­ca­tion in through the mouth can re­sult in an ac­cu­mu­la­tion on the back of the throat, which can cause a sore throat or hoarse­ness. But learn­ing proper in­haler tech­nique and rins­ing the mouth af­ter­ward can min­i­mize these prob­lems. The other side ef­fects are sys­temic and can oc­cur when a small amount of the steroid gets into the blood­stream. Over time, os­teo­poro­sis, cataracts, and thin­ning of the skin are all pos­si­bil­i­ties, but the ben­e­fits far ex­ceed the risks. We want to use as lit­tle of the drug as pos­si­ble to get the good ef­fects with­out get­ting the bad side ef­fects. With the risk of os­teo­poro­sis, it’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant to eat cal­cium-rich foods, such as dairy prod­ucts, broc­coli, turnip greens, salmon, and sar­dines and to take cal­cium sup­ple­ments. The sug­gested to­tal cal­cium in­take for those at risk of de­vel­op­ing os­teo­poro­sis is at least 1,500 mg per day. In­creas­ing your fluid in­take will help thin the mu­cus in your lungs and re­duce asthma symp­toms. Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, such as brisk walk­ing and breath­ing ex­er­cises, are good for over­all health and will help re­duce the risk of os­teo­poro­sis. Your doc­tor may rec­om­mend that you use your in­haler be­fore you ex­er­cise. Late-life asthma can be a se­ri­ous con­di­tion, but it is highly treat­able. It’s im­por­tant to rec­og­nize the symp­toms, get an ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis, and then stick to your in­di­vid­u­al­ized treat­ment pro­gramme.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.