Archive for the ‘asthma information’ Category

What Causes Asthma?

June 2, 2008

Asthma to a loaded gun and there are triggers that fire the loaded gun. The triggers of asthma can be divided into five groups: (1) airborne allergens, (2) nonallergic stimuli, (3) viral and bacterial infections, (4) chemicals and foods, and (5) psychological factors.
The best understood of all asthma triggers are the allergens pres¬ent in our indoor and outdoor air. These allergens set off reac¬tions when they are inhaled into the nose or lung. Airborne allergens such as dust, feathers, molds, insect parts, pollens, and animal parts or dander have several common characteristics. They must be small and light enough to remain airborne over long periods of time. Even a brief exposure to very tiny amounts of allergens will induce symptoms in a sensitized patient when these allergens are inhaled deep into the lung. Most such allergens can be identified by an allergy specialist using standardized skin and laboratory tests. Airborne allergens can be found in any environ¬ment: indoors, outdoors, at work, and at play. Some allergens, such as pollen, fluctuate with the seasons, while others, such as dust and mold, may be present in the air we breathe on a year-round basis

Environmental stimuli such as air pollution, chemical odors, hair sprays, cigarette smoke, and weather changes are all important asthma stimulants. These so-called nonspecific asthma triggers, widely dispersed in our environment.

Viral infections are among the most potent of all asthma triggers. One study showed that four out of every ten hospitalizations for childhood asthma are caused by common cold viruses. Different viruses strike different age groups. Infants and children are more susceptible to RSV and mycoplasma infection, while adult asth¬matics are more likely to be infected with the influenza or rhinovirus group.

Some recent clues help explain why many patients with allergies and asthma are prone to repeated colds and asthma relapses. Studies have shown that some people produce an allergic (IgE) antibody to certain viruses. Doctors also know that the common cold is more likely to be transmitted by hand-to-mouth contact than by droplets produced by coughing or sneezing. Many children (and some adults) with asthma and allergies have a per¬sistently itchy nose, which they constantly rub. This is a very ef¬fective way to transfer viruses from hand to mouth. The allergic salute may explain why so many asthmatics get one cold after another.



Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by inflammation of the airways

June 2, 2008

Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by inflammation of the airways. Though asthma cannot be cured it can be controlled. Asthma can get better or worse over time and requires treatment changes. The condition of a patient’s asthma will change depending on the environment, patient activities, management practices and other factors. Even when patients have their asthma under control, monitoring and treatment are needed to maintain control.

The four key components for long term Asthma control are – assessment and monitoring, pharmacologic therapy, control of factors contributing to asthma severity and patient education to form a partnership. A person having symptoms of asthma must seek an early and accurate diagnosis.

The next step should be to work with the physician or allergist to develop a daily action plan for managing symptoms as well as adhering to the medication plan prescribed by the physician. Also the patient should avoid exposure to all known triggers and control the environment to a practically possible extent. He should then monitor his response to the treatment.

 Asthma is classified in steps as mild intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, severe persistent and they correspond to the steps of pharmacologic therapy. All patients need to have a short-acting inhaled b2-agonist to take as needed for symptoms. Patients with mild, moderate or severe persistent asthma require daily long-term medication to control their asthma. At the onset, the therapy must be at a higher level to achieve rapid control. Adding a course of steroids either oral or inhaled, mast cell stabilizers, leukotriene modifiers or using a higher dose of inhaled steroids will help suppress airway inflammation and thus gain prompt control in a rapid manner.

To reduce effects of specific allergens on a patient with persistent asthma, first the specific allergens should be identified and sensitivity to the allergens confirmed using skin or invitro tests or medical history. Then the patient should try to reduce or eliminate them. Patient education helps people with asthma to take actions to control their symptoms. They also need to be assured that they can effectively manage asthma for it will motivate them to follow the asthma action plan. A close partnership between the patient and the physician is a must in order to work together to build the patient’s skill and confidence, only then it will help to meet the goals of asthma control.