Asthma

Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment

Asthma is a chronic disease that involves the airways in the lungs. These airways allow air to flow in and out of the lungs. A person who has Asthma always suffers from inflamed airways. They become more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten if something triggers their symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to pass in and out of the lungs.

Causes

The causes of asthma, or why some people get it and others don’t, have not been discovered yet, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Asthma triggers, just like allergy triggers, vary from person to person, and exposure to various irritants can affect people differently. Some of these triggers may include:

  • Allergies to airborne substances such as pollen, dust, animal dander, mold spores, grass, etc.
  • Allergic reactions to food
  • Exercise or physical activity
  • Pollution including smoke, smog, etc.
  • Heartburn
  • Overwhelming stress or emotional reactions
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Sensitivity to medications

 

Symptoms

The symptoms, frequency and severity of asthma attacks will vary from person to person. Some people may endure frequent spells of asthma while others may experience infrequent bouts that occur only under the stress of a certain trigger.
Asthma symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

Diagnosis

As with any diagnosis, it is important to collect a complete medical history as well as family history. A physical exam, as well as a review of any previous test results and current symptoms is necessary to rule out possible underlying conditions. During a physical exam for asthma, the doctor will listen for breathing abnormalities andcheck the nasal passages for swelling and inflammation. Diagnostic tests such as a lung function test may be performed in order to measure the amount of air a person can breathe in and out, as well as the pressure at which a patient can exhale. Additional detailed tests may be ordered to rule out other allergies and confirm an asthma diagnosis.

Treatment

There is no cure for asthma, unfortunately, and people who suffer from it may have it their entire lives, but with treatment they may be able to control the symptoms and stop the asthma attacks before they start. By educating patients on what triggers their asthma attacks, and teaching them to take steps to avoid those triggers, the need for medication is decreased significantly. The main treatments for asthma include inhaled corticosteroids, oral medications, medicated inhalers, and possible injections. Because of the danger of some popular asthma drugs, the FDA recommended several popular medications be taken off the market. As a result of the FDA announcement, many people are searching for more natural ways to treat their asthma condition. The World Health Organization has recognized asthma as a disease that can be treated with alternative medicine techniques, including the options provided through SCU Health System. SCU provides these alternative treatment options:

  • Acupuncture – fine needles inserted at specific points on the skin have been shown to be an effective therapy, as well as a preventative medicine technique for asthma Treatment is focused on achieving overall health and well-being in order to alleviate symptoms associated with asthma.
  • Ayurveda – treatments include herbal remedies and are completely natural, non-invasive, and can be prepared for use at home. Our Ayurvedic experts believe that educating patients on preventative techniques as well as treatment options will increase positive outcomes.

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