Jun 28, 2014
Asthma or Bronchial Asthma.
Asthma is unfortunately an all too common and serious respiratory disease. It affects men and women adults and small children. It is characterised by spasm of the muscle surrounding the air passage to the lungs – the bronchi. This in turn impedes expiration causing the sufferer to emit the characteristic wheeze on breathing out. In sever cases this will induce considerable distress and even death. It is estimated that 150,000 people in Europe alone will die from bronchial asthma every year.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Bronchial Asthma.
Asthma can be divided into two subgroups – early onset and late onset. Diagnosing asthma in the very young is different from diagnosing it in an adult.
In a child:
• There will usually be a family history of asthma and this should raise suspicions.
• It is difficult to diagnose asthma under the age of 2 because infants often develop wheezy cough or crupe that have nothing to do with asthma. One needs to be careful not to rush into labelling a very young child as “Asthmatic”.
• Where there is a high degree of suspicion that an infant may be suffering from asthma then a trial of steroids may be indicated to rule asthma in or out. If the wheezing quickly responds to steroids then this confirms the diagnosis.
In the adult:
• Cough shortness of breath, difficulty breathing in and out and distress.
• Symptoms brought on by exercise.
• Symptoms made worse by exposure to allergens such as grass pollens.
• Reduced Peak Flow metering. This is a simple test carried out in the doctor’s office that shows reduced ability to exhale forcefully.
Causes of Bronchial Asthma.
• Asthma is usually an allergic reaction to exposure to allergens.
• Common allergens are pollens, house dust mite and various air pollutions.
• Asthma may be exercise induced and unrelated to any known allergen.
Treatment of Asthma:
• Bronchodilators such as Salbutamol by mouth or inhaler.
• Corticosteroids by mouth of inhaler.
• Detecting and avoiding allergens.
Finally a word about Status Asthmaticus: This is the medical emergency where an asthma sufferer goes into a severe asthma attack such that they are barely able to breath, have no exercise tolerance at all and are unable to get sufficient oxygen into their lungs to sustain life. To avoid death it requires immediate medical intervention which usually will include the administration of intravenous corticosteroids.
The way to avoid Status Asthmaticus is to avoid its onset. Nearly all people suffering from asthma learn to control attacks as they occur. This they will usually do by using inhalers. However, it may also be a good idea if asthma sufferers also brought around with them a supply of steroid tablets such as Prednisalone. These can be latterly life saving if taken in time to ward off the development of serious life-threatening Status Asthmaticus.