Asthma occurs in most western countries and is the leading chronic illness of children.
Asthma, in some cases, cannot be cured, but for most patients it can be controlled so that they have only minimal and infrequent symptoms and they can live an active life.
If you have asthma, managing it is an important part of your life. Controlling your asthma means staying away from things that bother your airways and taking medicines or natural remedies as directed by your doctor.
When a person experiences a worsening of their asthma symptoms, it is called an asthma episode or, in severe cases, an asthma attack. During an asthma attack, smooth muscles around the bronchial tubes contract, making the airway openings narrower so less air can flow through. Inflammation increases and the airways become more swollen and narrow. Cells in the airways also make more mucus than usual, which narrows the airways further. The changes to the airways cause the symptoms of asthma.
Asthma attacks are not all the same-some are worse than others. In a severe asthma attack, the airways can close so much that not enough oxygen gets to vital organs. This condition is a medical emergency. People can die from severe asthma attacks. A person suffering from an asthma attack has a sensation similar to drowning.
Learning the warning signs or asthma symptoms can often alert a sufferer in time to take preventive action, such as medication or natural remedies.
Asthma attacks can occur over a long period of time. Although there are times when acute episodes strike asthmatics, most asthma sufferers say that there are long periods during which they suffer few, if any, asthma symptoms.
Here are some asthma symptoms:
* Coughing. Coughing in people with asthma is often worse at night or early in the morning, making it hard for them to sleep. This may be the only symptom a child with asthma has.
* Wheezing. Wheezing is a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe.
* A tight feeling in the chest. This can feel like someone is squeezing or sitting on your chest.
* Shortness of breath. Asthma sufferers often say they can’t catch their breath, or they feel breathless or out of breath.
* Narrowing of the air passages in the lungs and hence increased resistance to airflow.
* Significant reversibility with steroid drugs
* Symptom-free periods
* Frequent occurrence of allergy
* Inflammation of the air passages
* Bronchial hyper-responsiveness to non-specific stimuli such as cold air, air pollution, pollen, dust, or other irritants
* Asthma symptoms brought on by exercises
* Coughing or wheezing brought on by prolonged crying or laughing
Not all people have these symptoms, and symptoms may vary from one asthma attack to another. Some symptoms are mild and some are life threatening.
Symptoms also differ in how often they occur. Some people with asthma only have symptoms once every few months, others have symptoms every week, and still other people have symptoms every day.
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