Health A-Z

Asthma Signs – How to Prevent and Manage Asthma Attacks?

Asthma signs and symptoms typically include cough, wheezing (a whistling sound during expiration and can eventually be heard upon inspiration), dyspnea or difficulty of breathing.

It is right to say that when we talk about asthma signs and symptoms, we’re specifically dealing with the respiratory system. This system is responsible for the ventilation and respiration processes of the body. It is the location where the exchange of gases, carbon dioxide and oxygen, occurs as we inhale and exhale. The respiratory system helps in the delivery of oxygen to every part of the body by supplying oxygen. Thus the blood and removing carbon dioxide in the blood to allow its excretion during exhalation.

How Asthma Take Place in the Body

Asthma is considered to be a hypersensitive reaction of the body to intrinsic and extrinsic factors. And it’s said to be an autoimmune disease. The changes that cause asthma to occur are alterable and dispersed airway inflammation. Obstruction can be a result of inflammation if the following factors are present:

  • Mucosal Edema: The engorgement of the membranes that composes the airway, which lessens constricts the airways;
  • Bronchospasm: Cramping of the bronchial muscle, which causes additional narrowing of the airway because the bronchus is a  non-striated involuntary muscle or smooth muscle that circumscribe the airways
  • Mucus Accumulation: The production of mucus is increased, which shrinks the airway size and may totally obstruct the bronchi.

Remodeling of the airway happens when chronic inflammation is present. This is the condition where the airway already has fibrosis. This can lead to the narrowing of airways and possible unalterable airflow restriction. Neutrophils, mast cells, lymphocytes, and eosinophils are responsible for the inflammation process during the manifestation of signs and symptoms. Additionally, the sympathetic nervous system’s adrenergic receptors (alpha and beta₂) positioned in the bronchi has a big role. Alpha-adrenergic receptors has a brochoconstriction effect while beta₂-adrenergic receptor has a bronchodilation purpose.

How to Identify Asthma Signs and Symptoms

Asthma signs and symptoms usually arise upon awakening, during early morning and also at night. It can begin abruptly but typically is preceded by aggravating symptoms for several days. Cough is present without any production of mucus due to the entrapment of mucus secretions in the airways and the continuous narrowing of it. Dyspnea may be present and can be manifested by chest tightness. Wheezing is a result of airway tightening and is carefully observed because the absence of it may indicate that the obstruction is resolved or the airway is completely blocked. Because of the constriction of the airways, the patient has to increase his effort to exhale as;

  • The attack worsens the patient may experience diaphoresis or excessive perspiration,
  • Widened pulse pressure and tachycardia (increased heart rate) in conjunction with central cyanosis (a late sign), and
  • Hypoxemia or decrease oxygen levels in the blood.

How to Prevent Asthma Attacks to Happen

Prevention is way much better than cure. In this phase of care, the person involved doesn’t show any asthma signs and symptoms yet. But it is the most important phase because it is easy to care for a healthy individual than an ill one. When the patient suffers from frequent asthma attacks then he should undertake tests to recognize the substances that cause the symptoms. After identifying the substances that makes the manifestations come about, the patient should be instructed to avoid possible contact with allergens. Information is the solution to excellent asthma care.

How to Manage Asthma Attacks

Emergency interventions are required on asthma patients because the main concern is to provide them a patent airway. The attack can lead to the increase of anxiety that may further aggravate the asthma attack. Asthma diagnosis should be recognized immediately to be able to give the proper interventions for it.

Pharmacologic therapy is precedence after doing prompt asthma diagnosis in the presence of asthma signs and symptoms. It includes short acting or quick relief medication that instantly treat signs and symptoms and exacerbations (worsening of signs and symptoms) and long acting drugs that maintains and control of recurring attacks of asthma. The most compelling long acting treatment are corticosteroids because it is an anti-inflammatory drug that assuage the symptoms, improve the function of the airway, and  decrease the variability of the peak flow. Initially, it is an inhalant and it is necessary to use a spacer during the administration. The patient should also wash his mouth after administering the medication to avoid having oral thrush. Other long acting medications are Cromolyn Sodium, Theophlylline and Antileukotrines (latest class of medication). Short acting medications such as beta₂-adrenergic agonists are best for relieving acute symptoms and exercise-provoked asthma because the onset of action of these drugs is rapid. Anti-cholinergic drugs may also be given such as Atrovent.

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