Understanding chronic asthma

While there are many patients who suffer from occasional asthma and hay fever, there are a few who, because of pollen or sudden allergen exposure, may suffer from chronic asthma.

Coughing, wheezing and occasional lack of breath may be an everyday occurrence for them. Today we have with us Dr. Ratan Kumar Vaish, Consultant, Respiratory Medicine at Rockland Hospital, who will help us in understanding chronic asthma in detail.

Understanding the disease - chronic asthma.
Chronic Asthma is a kind of respiratory disease, which affects lungs. This condition involves irritation of the airways. It usually occurs during change of season and most commonly in childhood or adolescence. It is most often an inherited disorder. It also occurs in adult population and during attack one can suffer from severe breathlessness, coughing and wheezing.

Causes of chronic asthma.
Allergy to pollen grains, cold exposure, and exercise induced pollution and allergy from some food material are a few of the top causes of chronic asthma. If a person has a history of severe respiratory infections in childhood, and years of exposure to air pollution and obesity, then these are also significant risk factors for developing chronic asthma.

Symptoms of chronic asthma.
A few symptoms of chronic asthma are - difficulty in breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, excessive use of respiratory muscle and choking sensation. In very severe attack cases, there may be chances of bluish coloration of tongue, nose tip and finger tips.

Treatment of chronic asthma.
Ways to treat chronic asthma are:

- Avoid known environmental trigger factor.
- Education about disease.
- Use of bronchodilator medicine by rotahaler and inhaler. In severe cases treatment is done by nabulisation.
- There are two types of medicine. (i) Rescue medicine - to save the life in case of severe attack. (ii) Preventable medicine- for smooth life and helps to prevent complication.
- Use of steroids in severe attack. Steroids may be used to save a patient's life in severe cases.
- Limit strenuous exercise to help prevent the symptoms.

Lifestyle modifications for managing chronic asthma:

- Avoid known trigger factor for particular asthmatic patient. E.g. that particular pollen grains, cold exposure, heavy exercise.

- Reduce body weight in morbid obese patients.

- Try and treat any existing sleep disorders.

- By making some other lifestyle changes the severity of this condition can be reduced. Sedentary lifestyle and smoking should be avoided as they may lead to more risk factors.

- One should follow a healthy nutritious diet.

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