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Symptoms, causes, and treatments for Asthma
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma obstructs airflow to the lungs by narrowing and inflaming airways. Asthma is commonly diagnosed in children, and it’s rare for an adult to receive a new diagnosis of asthma.
Common asthma symptoms include:
- Chest tightness
- Consistent, chronic coughs
- Mucus buildup in airways
- Sensitivity in your airways when inhaling
- Trouble breathing
Causes of Asthma
Asthma has no singular, defined cause. It’s not fully understood why some individuals develop it and others don’t. A few commonly accepted possible causes are:
- Air pollution
- Exposure to allergens
After initial diagnosis, asthmatics usually work on a management plan with a doctor to identify and control their triggers. Because there’s no asthma cure, it’s important, and often life-saving, to know about and plan for your unique triggers.
Common asthma triggers include:
- Cold air
- Pet dander
- Sinus infections
- Specific foods or drinks
Should I Be Worried?
If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, you probably know about your triggers and have a prescribed inhaler on-hand for attacks.
Severe asthma episodes can be life-threatening. Breathing becomes severely inhibited or completely blocked.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends asthmatics create a plan with a doctor to control and manage their asthma and prevent serious attacks.
There are several asthma management plans published by medical organizations freely available online. One example, created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, uses a green, yellow, and red zone format for asthmatics to quickly identify the severity of an episode.
Note that this is just one example of an asthma action plan, and you should schedule a visit with a doctor before committing to one plan over another, especially if you or your child’s asthma is newly diagnosed.
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Asthma Prevention Tips
Even though asthma is incurable, it’s such a common disease that several preventative treatment plans exist to manage and control the triggers unique to your asthma. If you haven’t already, talk with a doctor about developing a unique management plan. The following tips may also help prevent attacks in conjunction with your plan:
- Stop smoking. Smoking is a common risk to asthmatics. If you have asthma, you really should put down the cigarette. If you do happen to smoke, talk to a doctor about quitting entirely.
- Don’t vape, either (possibly). “But Zoom, I vape! Vaping is better than cigarettes!” you cry out. Maybe. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states there’s no conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes are any safer for asthmatics, despite the absence of irritants associated with tobacco.
- Get a fluffy pet (or borrow one). It’s not 100% proven, but exposing children to pets at an early age may help create a resistance to pet dander. But be careful if you’re unsure which allergens affect your child. Seek immediate medical attention if your child starts swelling up or they have difficulty breathing when exposed to a new animal.
- Know your asthma triggers. As mentioned in our article, developing a treatment plan to manage your asthma triggers is perhaps the best preventive measure to make attacks as infrequent as possible.