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Disease at a Glance: Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition that results from the inflammation of airways in the lungs. Airways are small tubes that allow air to come into and out of our lungs. When a person comes into contact with an asthma trigger (smoke, dust, pollen, cold, pollution, etc.), the airways get inflammed and the muscles around them tighten.

 

Cells in the airways may also produce more mucus, further narrowing the airways. This causes less air to flow into the lungs. If you have asthma, your airways are already inflammed – so a trigger worsens the situation, leading to what is called an asthma attack.

 

Common Symptoms

Wheezing & Coughing
Shortness of Breath
Tightening of the Chest

 

Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath and tightening of the chest. People with a family history of asthma are more prone to developing asthma. Symptoms are usually worse at night and in the early morning or in response to exercise or cold. There is no cure for asthma.

 

The most effective treatment is identifying the asthma triggers and eliminating exposure to them. Bronchodilators are usually given for short-term relief. For those prone to frequent asthma attacks, an inhaled corticosteroid may also be prescribed.

 


Key Diagnostic Tests: Lung Function Tests (Spirometry & Peak Flow), Bronchial Challenge Test (methacholine or histamine)

 

Additional Tests: Chest X-ray, Complete Blood Count (CBC), Blood Testing for suspected allergen

 

Doctor Specialty: Allergist / Pulmonologist

 

Common Products: Inhaler & Bronchodilator, Nebulizer, Humidifier, Vaporizer, etc.


 

References

1) Asthma Society of India (www.asthmasocietyofindia.org)
2) American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (www.aaaai.org)
3) National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (www.nhlbi.nih.gov)

 

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