What is asthma? That’s a very important question for asthmatics and their families to consider. Understanding the definition of the disease and its common causes is imperative if you want to treat it properly.
The better you understand exactly what is happening during an asthma attack, the better prepared you will be to respond to it and make sure that the asthma sufferer gets the help he needs.
Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs. It involves various conditions that combine to restrict airflow to and from the lungs. When the lungs are not working properly, you are not able to take in enough oxygen or expel potentially hazardous carbon dioxide.
If enough carbon dioxide builds up in the body, it can be poisonous. Since the various organs need a continuous oxygen supply to function normally, anything that limits that supply can have a serious effect.
In asthma, several different conditions can occur that affect lung function. The first is airway obstruction. There are thin bands of muscle around the individual airways in the lungs.
During normal breathing, those bands are relaxed, allowing for easy oxygen flow. In asthmatics, those bands will tighten up at times, restricting the ability of the lungs to move air.
When asking what is asthma it would be easy to stop there, but asthma actually involves other issues in the lungs as well. The second, and most problematic, is inflammation. The bronchial tubes, small airways that make up the lungs, become inflamed in patients with asthma, further limiting the ability to breathe normally.
The third condition common to asthmatics is airway irritability or sensitivity. The slightest exposure to an irritant, which may include anything from dust and pet dander to the stress of exercise, can cause the lungs to react negatively. When this kind of irritation causes immediate disturbance to normal breathing patterns, this is what is known as an asthma attack.
These attacks can come on quickly or can build up gradually and may be caused by any number of triggers. Certain individuals have what is known as “exercise-induced asthma”, which is asthma triggered by bouts of intense physical activity. Others have “allergic asthma”, or asthma caused by specific allergens.
Unfortunately, the disease is quite common and can strike anyone from children to adults. There is no cure for asthma, but there are a number of treatments that can help individuals to manage their symptoms and lead full, rich lives.
What is asthma? That’s a good question to ask if you or a loved one suffers from the disease. Only through a better understanding of it can you hope to properly manage it.
Though asthma attacks can be frightening, proper treatment can help to lessen them and in some cases, symptoms may disappear entirely after some time.
The key is to talk with your doctor and formulate a treatment plan that works for you. If you can do that, than the one thing that asthma won’t be is a hindrance in your life.
Wishing you the best of health
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