Friday, March 27

Bronchial Asthma

What is bronchial asthma?

Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airway characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, which may vary in severity and frequency from person to person. The inflammation in the bronchial tree causes increased mucus production, swelling of the tissue lining the airways and spasm of the small muscles surrounding the airways (bronchospasm) causing constriction of the airways.

More than 6 million children under the age of 18 have asthma. The majority of kids with asthma develop symptoms by age 6, and many even develop symptoms by age 3.

What triggers an asthma attack?

The risk factors for developing asthma are inhaled asthma triggers. These include:
• Indoor allergens (for example house dust mites in bedding, carpet and stuffed furniture)
• Outdoor allergens (such as pollens and moulds)
• Tobacco smoke

Other triggers can include cold air, extreme emotional arousal such as anger, fear and physical exercise. In some people, asthma can be triggered by certain medications, such as aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and beta-blockers.

Genetic factors play a role in child-onset asthma. When these children are exposed to the triggering factor, they produce a type of antibody that is intended to engulf and destroy the foreign materials. This has the effect of making the airway cells sensitive to particular materials. Further exposure can lead rapidly to an asthmatic response. When an infant or young child wheezes during viral infections, the presence of allergy (in the child itself or a close relative) is a clue that asthma may well continue throughout childhood.

What are the signs and symptoms of asthma?

The signs and symptoms include:
• Frequent coughing spells, which may occur during play, at night, or while laughing.
• Less energy during play.
• Rapid breathing.
• Complaint of chest tightness or chest “hurting.”
• Wheezing when breathing in and out.
• See-saw motions (retractions) in the chest from labored breathing.
• Shortness of breath, loss of breath.
• Tightened neck and chest muscles.
• Feelings of weakness or tiredness.

How is asthma diagnosed?

The disease can often be diagnosed based on the child’s medical history, symptoms and physical exam. Sometimes, chest X-ray and pulmonary function test are done if the child is corporative.

How is asthma treated?

The symptoms can be managed with medications, especially inhaled corticosteroids and beta2-agonists (salbutamol or etc). The child usually has a management plan consisting of a daily treatment plan and an asthma action plan. These plans help the child to meet treatment goals:
• Increase lung function by treating the underlying inflammation in the lungs.
• Decrease the severity, frequency, and duration of asthma attacks by avoiding triggers.
• Treat the acute attacks as they occur.
• Use quick-relief medicine less.
• Have a full quality of life (the ability to participate in all daily activities, including school, exercise and recreation) by preventing and managing symptoms.
• Sleep through the night undisturbed by asthma symptoms.
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