Asthma, Asthma Symptoms and The Cause
Asthma tends to run in families, and may be associated with eczema, an inflammation of the skin. Asthma may appear for the first time in childhood, or in adolescence, often as an extension of hay fever. It can also appear completely out of the blue later in life – the so-called late-onset asthma, which can be much more disabling than other forms and is often associated with recurring chest infections.
• Coughing, wheezing and difficulty in breathing. The main difficulty is in breathing out, rather than in.
• In children, persistent coughing at night may be the only symptom of the asthma.
• Drawing in of the lower ribs on breathing in. This is especially obvious in babies and young children.
What causes asthma?
• Respiratory infection may trigger off inflammation of the air tubes in the lungs.
• Allergy to certain substances, including house-dust mites, animal fur, feathers, pollen or some foods.
• Night-time attacks in children are often associated with house-dust mites, down pillows or pets sleeping in the bedroom.
• Anxiety, perhaps before an exam, or excitement before a big event seems to bring on attacks in some people.
• Wheezy breathing occurring for the first time in a child should be reported to the doctor.
• A child must be encouraged to lead as full and normal a life as possible, yet at the same time be helped and supported to do this by parents and doctors who understand how modern drugs can be used to prevent and control attacks.
DO’S AND DON’TS OF ASTHMA
DO keep a diary about your asthma. Jot down when you get attacks and what seems to bring them on. This can help you and your doctor understand the value of different types of treatment.
DO get to know your limitations and do not be afraid to admit them. If something bothers you, such as cigarette smoke, say so.
DO keep regular hours and get as much sleep as you need.
DO avoid emotional stress.
DO carry prescribed medication with you always. You will feel more confident and be less likely to get an attack if you know you have an inhaler or tablets in your pocket or handbag.
DON’T smoke, or go into dusty, smoky surroundings.
DON’T allow yourself to become an invalid. Take as much exercise as you can cope with physically. Swimming is particularly helpful as it teaches breathing control – and usually pools are free from dust and pollen.
DON’T have carpets, heavy curtains or furniture that harbours dust in the bedroom. Avoid woollen blankets, feather pillows or eiderdowns, and keep the mattress covered. Vacuum the room and mattress daily.
DON’T over-protect an asthmatic child. Preventing him from doing things he enjoys can make the asthma worse. But do not try to pretend his condition does not exist, as you may overlook a build-up to severe illness.
DON’T acquire furry or feathered pets if you have an asthmatic child. But if you already have one, it is best not to get rid of it as that may worsen the child’s asthma. Fish are fine.