Asthma is defined as a disease of airways characterised by hyperresponsiveness of the trachea and bronchi, due to a multiplicity of stimuli. Asthma is an ancient Greek word meaning ” panting or short- drawn breath.” It is the most troublesome of the respiratory diseases. The asthma patient gets frequent attacks of breathlessness in between which he is completely normal.
Asthma is manifested physiologically by a widespread narrowing of the air passages, which is relieved promptly by therapy. Most attacks are short lived and last from a few minutes to hours. It may be familial or acquired. Asthma, seasonal or perennial sneezing, urticaria and eczema are many and different manifestations of one condition- allergy. A person may have eczema in childhood, develop sneezing when he grows up and then may contract asthma. A parent may have asthma and amongst his sons, one may have eczema and the other sneezing.
Causes of Asthma
Mainly bronchial in its symptoms, asthma is caused by a variety of factors. For many it is an allergic condition resulting from the reaction of the system to the weather, food, drugs, perfumes and other irritants which vary with different individuals.
2. Allergicreaction to a variety of allergens like dust, pollen, cockroach dust etc.
3. Drugs like aspirin, colouring agents like tarzine, dyes and chemicals.
4. Air pollution.
5. Occupationalfactors e.g. wood dusts, grain, flour, laundry detergents, cotton dusts, coal mines.
6. Infection especially in young children.
7. Exercise induced.
8. Psychologicalfactors like severe stress.
Factors that predispose to Asthma
1. Heredity: Almost 40 percent of asthma patients give a family history of either asthma or some other form of allergy.
2. Infection: Infection makes an allergy-prone individual start getting symptoms of allergy. A pre-existing sensitivity to an specific allergen may become manifest in the presence of infection.
3. Psychological factors: Time and again, researchers have claimed the presence of specific personality traits in asthmatics. Most asthmatics are tensed, ego-centric, dominating, jealous and stubborn individuals. Such personality diminishes the capacity of these individuals to adapt to unfavorable like situations, which ultimately results into asthma.
4. Climate: Generally speaking rainy weather, strong winds and sudden changes in barometric pressure are known to precipitate asthma attacks.
5. Occupation: Some occupations are particularly hazardous for people with an allergic background or those who have some manifestation of allergy already present in them. Farmers, poultry-men, dairy-workers and bakers are exposed to large amounts of fungus spores, gardeners, farmers and farm-laborers are exposed to large number of pollens, etc.
Treatment of Asthma
1. Elimination of cause from the environment.
2. Patient propped up in bed.
3. Patients with severe attacks to be admitted.
4. Drugs (Bronchodilators).
Asthma treatment during the attack consists of:
(1) Administering oxygen through nose in case the attack has been very severe and has resulted into a deficiency of oxygen in the blood,
(2) Relieving the narrowing of airways and inhibiting the production of secretions by bronchodilator drugs like Theophylline, Aminophylline, Deriphylline, Ephidrine and Salbutamol,
(3) Combating lung infection, if any, by suitable antibiotic drugs and
(4) Giving intravenous 5 percent glucose-saline if the patient seems dehydrated.
If the asthma attack is not adequately controlled by bronchodilator tablets or injections, corticosteroid drugs may have to be used.
Prevention of Asthma
1. Patient should give up smoking.
2. Use nasal filters.
3. No late nights.
4. Regular exercises and deep breathing.