ANA THERESA WILLIAMS, BSN, RN
First, asthma runs in the family like in our case here. Most of my relatives in my mother’s side, including our immediate family members and my sister’s eldest son has asthma and/or allergic rhinitis.
It’s quite dominant in my family tree. It seems that we are called the Asthmatic Family. But it’s really no joke to have asthma, since it can also kill you if there’s no proper treatment leading to respiratory arrest.
Also known as reactive airway disease or chronic lung disease, it inflames or swells and narrows the airways and causes to produce extra mucus. It is a common long-term condition that can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person.
For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.
Asthma is present on both young and old. There is no cure for asthma, but the good news is it can be managed and treated so you can live a normal, healthy life.
Asthma signs and symptoms include chest tightness or pain; trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing; a wheezing or whistling sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children); and coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu.
Signs that your asthma is probably worsening include asthma signs and symptoms that are more frequent and bothersome; increasing difficulty breathing (measurable with a peak flow meter, a device used to check how well your lungs are working); and the need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often.
For some people, asthma symptoms flare up in certain situations such as exercise-induced asthma, which may be worse when the air is cold and dry; occupational asthma, triggered by workplace irritants such as chemical fumes, gases or dust; and allergy-induced asthma, triggered by particular allergens, such as pet or any animal dander, cock-roaches, dust mites or pollen.
Other substances that trigger allergies (allergens) and irritants but different from person to person also include air pollutants like smoke from smoke belching vehicles and cigarettes; certain medications like beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve); strong emotions and stress; sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine; GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease or a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat; and menstrual cycle in some women.
Remember that treating asthma early may prevent long-term lung damage and help keep the condition from worsening over time. It certainly makes a big difference in preventing both short-term and long-term complications caused by asthma.
Asthma complications include symptoms that interfere with sleep, work or recreational activities; sick days from work or school during asthma flare-ups; permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes (airway remodeling) that affects how well you can breathe; emergency room visits and hospitalizations for severe asthma attacks; and side effects from long-term use of some medications used to stabilize severe asthma.
To live a normal and healthy life, you should first identify and avoid asthma triggers. A number of outdoor allergens and irritants — ranging from pollen and mold to cold air and air pollution — can trigger asthma attacks. Find out what causes or worsens your asthma, and take steps to avoid those triggers.
Next, you should get vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia. Staying current with vaccinations can prevent flu and pneumonia from triggering asthma flare-ups. I usually visit allergist/immunologist Maricar Decena-Ang,M.D. at San Pedro Hospital-Medical Arts Building for some immunization updates.
Get regular exercise. Having asthma doesn’t mean you have to be less active. Treatment can prevent asthma attacks and control symptoms during activity. Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and lungs, which helps relieve asthma symptoms. If you exercise in cold temperatures, wear a face mask to warm the air you breathe.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can worsen asthma symptoms, and it puts you at higher risk of other health problems.
Eat fruits and vegetables. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may increase lung function and reduce asthma symptoms. These foods are rich in protective nutrients or antioxidants that boost the immune system.
Control heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s possible that the acid reflux that causes heartburn may damage lung airways and worsen asthma symptoms. If you have frequent or constant heartburn, talk to your doctor about treatment options. You may need treatment for GERD before your asthma symptoms improve.
HEALTHWATCHING: Call unto Me (Jesus Christ) and I will answer you and show unto you great and mighty things which you still do not know. Jeremiah 33:3