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For those who don’t have it, asthma can seem like a disease that should be able to be conquered. After all, it is just breathing. And for those diagnosed with it later in life, you may also not understand the potential severity of asthma. Perhaps you feel a little tightness in the chest when you strain yourself, or you cough a little too much, a little too often. The actual diagnosis of asthma is something much greater than just a little coughing and should be taken very seriously.
There are many types of asthma but the medical definition is “a disease of the windpipe (bronchial tubes) which carry air to and from the lungs.” Asthma has no set diagnosis; the journey from first warning sign symptoms to a full blown diagnosis of asthma is long and complicated. Symptoms usually:
1) Vary from person to person.
2) Vary from episode to episode.
3) Flare up and get very severe, then disappear for long periods.
4) Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe for extended periods of time.
The cause of asthma is not actually known; sometimes it appears genetic, but then identical symptoms pop up in a vacant gene pool of non-asthma sufferers. The sad truth is that, even with all our advanced knowledge of how things work and why, there is still not even any known ‘cure’ for asthma suffers. However, once diagnosed, there are many smart things you can do to remain symptom free or at least manage the symptoms so your treatment is just a task in your daily life.
Someone with normal lung function, air comes in the nose and mouth. It passes the windpipe before moving to the bronchi that then pass on to smaller and smaller tubes, ending in a small sac called alveoli. That small sac is where oxygen is passed to the blood. The body needs this oxygen. Carbon dioxide, which the body does not need, is then removed.
People with asthma have trouble breathing in the presence of ‘triggers.’ Symptoms of asthma mean the flow is obstructed as air passes out of the lungs. This happens either because airways become irritated, swollen, or reddened producing mucous. The greater the inflammation, the more sensitive the air passages, the worse and more intense the symptoms. The other cause of symptoms is that the muscles surrounding the airway twitch and tighten, causing the air channel to narrow. The muscle tension is usually caused if inflammation is not treated.
Airways of someone with asthma are inflamed all the time to a degree. The greater the inflammation, the more sensitive the airway is, leading to increased breathing difficulty.
Asthma is chronic condition, meaning it needs to be controlled over time. Anyone is susceptible to asthma, though it’s usually diagnosed in early childhood
Most people living with asthma live healthy, fully active lives. You just need to monitor your symptoms, communicate with your doctor, and keep up to date on your current status, so that you too can enjoy a happy, productive life.