Megan Johnson McCullough —Coughing. Wheezing. Tight chest. Shortness of breath. These are the common symptoms of the air restriction condition called asthma. When the bronchial tubes become inflamed, the airway tightens and can fill with mucus. People experience different symptoms at different times and can go a long period
without “attacks”. Some people only have asthma during exercise, others only when they have a cold, and others when their allergies are heightened. Triggers can include dust mites, cigarette smoke, molds, pollen, animal dander, and pollen. Asthma is common in people who have low levels of vitamins C, E, and omega 3 fatty acids. Extreme emotional states can also bring upon asthma.
Asthma attacks vary in severity. During a mild attack, the airway will open up and alleviate normally within a few minutes or up to an hour. A serious attack may require immediate emergency medical attention. An attack becomes especially dangerous when the lips start to turn blue and speech is difficult. Prevention of an attack is key as one starts to learn their body’s warning signs. Early warning signs include feeling short of breath, losing your breath quickly, coughing bouts (usually at night), mood changes, feeling more tired than normal, allergy symptoms such as a runny nose or sneezing, or when a peak flow meter reads low lung function (less than 50%).
Asthma affects up to 12% of children which makes it the leading chronic illness for young people. This number seems to be on the rise (the causes are unknown). There are treatments for short and long-term relief.
Most people with asthma can use an inhaler which serves as an anti-inflammatory. This is a type of steroid to reduce swelling and the build-up of mucus. Bronchodilators can help relax the muscles around the airway. Most people take these in the inhaler right before exercise. This can help reduce the likelihood of exercise-induced asthma. However, this is not to be used daily. Some people have difficulty using inhalers, such as children. For these people an asthma nebulizer can be used. This is a machine with a mouthpiece or that has a mask which can help the medicine be better inhaled.
The exact cause of asthma is unknown. The exact cure for asthma is also unknown. Learning what triggers an attack can be a learning process for someone. However, asthma should not deter someone from being physically active. Exercise indoors if air quality is poor. Always bring your inhaler. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Uncontrolled crying can impede breathing. Be sure to stop activity when you feel short of breath abnormally (not just from increasing your heart rate). Ask your doctor to help test you to discover what sets off your airways obstruction. When it comes to your health, inhale positivity and exhale negativity. Don’t let any obstruction get in the way of your progress.
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