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Experiencing Shortness of Breath, is it Asthma?

Shortness of breath coughing and difficulty in breathing along with wheezing are some common symptoms of asthma. Asthma is a situation in which airways swell and narrow down because of extra mucus accumulation. Asthmatic symptoms may not always be present when induced, like most illnesses. Sometimes symptoms only appear during certain times or activities such as mild to strenuous physical activity, smoke or chemically induced by external environmental agents or exacerbation during a pre-existing lung infection. Asthma can become a life-threatening situation if it is not controlled adequately and timely. Immediate treatment in relation to the symptoms of Asthma is of critical importance for your benefit (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 2018).

Some Common Symptoms of Asthma

• Coughing
• Wheezing
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain

It must be noted that every person with asthma might not have similar symptoms. Some people may show a different response. The response depends on age, timing of attack and external factors. The signs of asthma may vary in a person at different times. Symptoms of asthma can vary from one asthma attack to the next. It might be mild at a time and serious another time. Sometimes asthma episode is short while some other times it may go for an extended period. Varying symptoms during an episode may also be seen. Here it is also important to note that a few people only show signs of asthma when they are exposed to cold, flu or taking a strenuous exercise.

Asthma May Complicate with Other Factors

Complications such as viral attack and allergies make asthma worst. Symptoms might exaggerate during such a situation. Increased difficulty in breathing may also be experienced during exercise. There are certain irritants such as fumes, dust, and gases that can trigger the symptoms.

An asthma attack can be severe and life-threatening. Symptoms are needed to be kept in check because the disease may show varying signs. Worsening of breath along with chest tightness, vocal cord dysfunction and wheezing are some warning signs. Quick-relief aids such as albuterol inhaler may be used to control an acute attack. It is to be noted that prevention is better than treatment. Asthma may worsen over the period of time if left untreated. Monitoring of the symptoms of asthma is also important. Long term control with appropriate measures can help reduce the chances of life-threatening asthma.

What Causes Asthma

The actual cause of asthma is still not clear but it is believed that genetic factors increase vulnerability. The disease is passed down from parents to children. Someone having asthma might have sensitive airways that tighten or irritate easily.

According to Asthma UK (2018), the cause of asthma is much complex. It is important to note that hygiene plays a pivotal role in this regard. Washing hands regularly to prevent cold and flu is helpful. Allergens, cough and cold can reduce the chances of getting asthma. In addition, there are certain stages of life when an individual is more vulnerable to developing an asthma attack. Children are sensitive to have allergies that can trigger asthma. In females, hormones play a pivotal role in triggering asthma. Females also develop asthma during or after menopause. People living in a polluted or congested environment are exposed more to chemicals and fumes from traffic. Children who live near busy roads can develop asthma more frequently. Other environmental factors such as allergens, fumes, and chemicals may also result in the symptoms of asthma. Triggering factors for asthma include some airborne substances, cold air, respiratory infection, pet dander, smoke, mold spores, and pollen.

According to the American Asthma and Allergy Federation, exercise that makes a person breath harder can trigger asthma. If exercise is done in the cold air the chances of getting asthma worse increase. In this context, EIB (Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction) plays a pivotal role that is triggered by physical activity and called as EIA (exercise-induced asthma). The symptoms of this asthma may be delayed or appear after exercising for several minutes. However, with appropriate treatment and management the chances of EIA can be avoided.

Certain medications can also exacerbate symptoms of asthma these including aspirin, naproxen, and beta-blockers. Food preservatives in beverages and dry fruits, potato wine, and beer may also cause asthma. There are certain risk factors for asthma as well along with hereditary vulnerability. These include being overweight or obese, smoking, having allergic rhinitis and dermatitis. Frequent exposure to triggers may also increase complications (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, 2018).

How Asthma May Affect You or Your Loved Ones

Exacerbation in symptoms of asthma may result in a disturbance in daily routine. Asthma flare-ups may come with sick days, sleeplessness, inability to participate in daily activities and increased emergency room visits. If left untreated, asthma may result in permanent narrowing down of the airways. Appropriate treatment and prevention to exposure to the triggering factors are needed to stop asthma from getting worse.

What Should You Do if You Experience Asthmatic Symptoms

If you are a known Asthmatic, your family GP can assist you with preparation of an Asthma Care Plan. In an event of an Asthma attack, you should follow-up on your Asthma Care Plan and consult a nearby doctor immediately. Since Asthmatic symptoms may occur without a pre-existing Asthmatic illness, if you experience shortness of breath, you should treat the situation urgently and contact your nearest GP for professional medical advice.

How Can an After Hours GPs Assist You?

If you are unable to get to your local GP, 1300 Dr To Me can assist you with an after hours GP locum visit at the convenience of your home. Our after hours GPs can provide you with immediate assessment and treatment for Asthmatic symptoms. We keep your local GP informed by providing them with timely information about your treatment.

However, it must be noted that Asthmatic symptoms may be worse for some, compared to others. In case that you or your loved ones are experiencing severe shortness of breath inclusive of choking feeling or unable to breath, you will require immediate medical assistance, and must call 000 for ambulatory assistance.

Disclaimer: 1300 Dr To Me provides free health information blogs for the community to increase awareness on health & medical topics. The information in this article is educative and does not constitute diagnosis. Please consult a doctor, or request an urgent after hours GP visit should you or your children experience allergic symptoms.

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