What is asthma?

Key points

  • Asthma is a noncommunicable disease that usually appears in childhood.
  • Its causes are not determined but the main risk factors are genetics and environmental exposure to an infinity of allergens.
  • There is no cure, but it can be controlled with proper treatment.

It is a noncommunicable disease with a low case fatality rate that is characterized by inflammation of the airways and recurrent coughing fits, shortness of breath, and wheezing in the chest. It affects about 4% of the population in Mexico and occurs mainly in childhood.

Your symptoms may occur several times a day or week, and in some cases worsen with physical activity or at night. During an asthma attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swells, causing their internal diameter to decrease and thus the amount of air moving in and out of the lungs. When they occur frequently, they usually cause other ailments such as insomnia, daytime tiredness, decreased activities, and school or work absenteeism.

Causes

Its causes are not yet completely clear, the main risk factors are the combination of genetics with environmental exposure to substances and inhaled particles that can trigger allergic reactions or irritate the respiratory tract, such as the following:

  • Respiratory infections such as colds, laryngitis, and bronchitis.
  • Exercise in poorly controlled patients such as running upstairs or carrying heavy objects.
  • Allergens within the house such as dust mites found in furniture, bedding, and carpets.
  • Air pollution or pet dander.
  • Allergens found outside such as pollen or mold.
  • Tobacco smoke.
  • Irritating substances in the work area.
  • Air pollution.

In addition to this, there are other triggers such as cold air, strong emotions such as fear or anger, and physical exercise. There are also some medications that can promote an asthma attack, such as aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or beta-blockers (drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, or migraine).

How to lead a good quality of life with asthma?

Although there is no cure, asthma can be controlled with proper treatment, so that patients can have a good quality of life. Medications recommended to relieve symptoms are short-term. Severe asthma progression control and the reduction of its intensity requires the administration of inhaled corticosteroids; the best treatment will be indicated by your treating physician.

Those patients who have persistent symptoms should take prescribed medications daily long-term, with the goal of controlling the underlying inflammation and preventing their symptoms. However, drug treatment is not the only way to control asthma. It is also important to avoid triggers that can make it worse.

The percentage of deaths from asthma is low, unlike COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), but it can be fatal if the appropriate medications are not used or the treatment is not followed.

At ABC Medical Center we care about preventing and taking care of your health, which is why in our Preventive Medicine Department we have various comprehensive medical evaluation programs aimed specifically at different segments of the population.

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