Asthma is a pretty common condition with over 8 million people living with the diagnosis in the UK. We have All heard of it, but do we know what it is? Asthma is a lung condition that can often cause breathing difficulties. It can affect people of all age groups, often starting in childhood but can start developing in adulthood.
Asthma is caused by the inflammation and swelling of the airways – the bronchioles. These are the cartilaginous tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. In asthma, they become over sensitive so the airways react to things that usually would cause a problem such as cold air or dust.
With inflammation, the air is restricted from moving in and out of the lungs. The chest works harder to try and maintain expiration and inspiration. With these muscles, the airway can tighten quickly.
The cause of asthma is unknown but can run in families, and develop after a serious respiratory infection, be due to allergy or due to being overweight. Symptoms of asthma include a wheezing sound when breathing, breathlessness, tightness of the chest, and a cough. If these symptoms get temporarily a lot worse, this could be an asthma attack.
Although there isn’t a cure, asthma can be successfully treated using inhalers. The main types of inhalers are reliever and preventer inhalers. A reliever inhaler helps relieve the tightness of the muscles surrounding the airway that causes the main asthma symptoms When the airway narrows there tends to be a build-up of mucous which helps to clog the airway. This is where a preventer inhaler is useful, and typically just one to two puffs of this inhaler is sufficient. If you find yourself using a preventer inhaler more than 4 times in 24 hours, it could be a sign that your condition is worsening, and you may need a different type of treatment. This is typically taken daily to help build up the strength of the airways over time. A reliever inhaler is typically only used when symptoms are severe or after an asthma attack.
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