Asthma is a chronic disease of the lung airways that can cause wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, mucus production, and coughing. When you have asthma, your airways leading to your alveoli become inflamed and this narrows your airways. Typically, this inflammation is chronic and can cause the airways to be swollen and sensitive. When this happens, the muscles around the airways also tighten. This makes it harder to breathe because less air is flowing to your lungs. The swelling can then worsen, making the airways even narrower. The cells in the airways can also start to produce more mucus (or sticky, thick liquid) than normal, which narrows the airways even more. This chain reaction results in asthma-like symptoms.
Risk Factors of Asthma
Before we get too into the nitty-gritty of this airway condition, it’s important to know if you’re at risk. Below, we’ve listed 9 of the most common risk factors of asthma:
- Asthma can start at any age.
- Family history with asthma is important.
- Boys are more likely than girls to develop asthma, but among adults, women are more likely.
- In preschool asthma, respiratory infections are a major contributor.
- In school-age asthma, allergens are a major contributor.
- Allergies often play a large role.
- Frequent infections can cause you to be more at risk.
- Being overweight can increase your chances of developing asthma.
- Smoking, secondhand smoke, or other occupational triggers/other lung pollutants can cause asthma.
The causes of asthma inflammation include inherited genetic traits and environmental causes, like allergens, air pollution, infections, diet, exercise, and work-related exposures. Because of this complicated combination of causes, there are many types of asthma. Therefore, asthma in every patient acts in its own unique way: each asthma patient has their own unique set of asthma triggers and treatment plan.
Managing Your Asthma
Successful asthma treatment starts with YOU. Taking an active role in managing your condition and following your action plan will help you manage your asthma so you can live a happier, healthier lifestyle.
There are Three Major Steps:
Controlling your asthma means setting both medical and non-medical goals to help you maintain normal daily activities and decrease the number of asthma medications needed.
Controlling your asthma can reduce your risk of experiencing asthma symptoms, attacks, and side effects of asthma medications. Understanding your own personal risk can help improve your lung capacity, decrease your need for urgent medical care, and reduce emergency room visits.
03 Know Your Triggers
Knowing your triggers of asthma can help control your condition and reduce risk. Triggers of asthma include allergies (like pollen, pets, and dust), infections, smoke, pollution, chemicals, weather changes, stress, and certain medications.
The first step to controlling your asthma is talking to your clinician about an asthma action plan. This will help you manage your medications, identify triggers, and better manage your asthma. If you already have an asthma action plan, talk to your Health Advisor about tips to help stick to your plan.