Tips to Keep Your Asthma Under Control: Prevent & Manage Asthma Attack


Asthma is a long-term condition of the lungs affecting both children and adults. The air passages in the lungs become narrow due to inflammation and tightening of the muscle around the small airways. This causes asthma symptoms which include cough, wheeze, shortness of breath and chest tightness and pain, fast or rapid breathing. Triggers can make asthma symptoms worse. Triggers include cold, dust, smoke, fumes, changes in weather, grass and tree pollen, animal furs and feathers, perfume, and these triggers vary from one person to another. Asthma can interfere with a patient’s daily activity, it can disturb sleep patterns cause tiredness during the day, which leads to poor concentration. Its financial impact is huge as drugs are needed at intervals to curb it.

Causes Of Asthma Attack

There are myriad factors that increase the risk of developing asthma. The probability is higher if other family members also have asthma. Its probability is higher in people who have other allergic conditions. Early events in life can increase the risk of asthma (low birth weight, exposure to smoke, and other sources of air pollution and respiratory infections). Exposure to environmental allergens and irritants e.g. pollens from grasses, chemicals, fumes, or specks of dust. Obesity also increases its risks.

A doctor observing an asthma patient’s breathing
A doctor observing an asthma patient’s breathing

Asthma Classification

Mild intermittent asthma: mild symptoms less than twice a week. Nighttime symptoms less than twice a month. Few asthma attacks.

Mild persistent asthma: symptoms three to six times a week. Nighttime symptoms three to four times a month. Asthma attacks affect activities.

Moderate persistent asthma: daily asthma symptoms. Nighttime attacks five or more times a month. Symptoms may affect activities.

Severe persistent asthma: ongoing symptoms both day and night. Activities need to be limited.

Types Of Asthma Attack

Adult-onset asthma: people younger than forty are more likely to have asthma.

Status asthmaticus: this asthma attack lasts long and does not go away when using bronchodilators. It is a medical emergency that needs treatment right away.

Allergic asthma: some things trigger allergies. They are dust, pollen, etc.

Non-allergic asthma: this type of asthma is pronounced in extreme weather. It could be the heat of the dry season or the cold of the rainy season. It occurs whenever you are stressed or have a cold.

Occupational asthma: this occurs in people who work around chemical fumes in an industry, dust or other irritating things in the air.

Nocturnal asthma: this asthma symptom gets worse at night.

Eosinophilic asthma: this type of asthma is due to high levels of white blood cells called eosinophils. It usually affects adults between 35 to 50 years old.

Aspirin-induced asthma: you have asthma symptoms when you take aspirin, along with a runny nose, sneezing, sinus pressure, and a cough.

Asthma causes and triggers

Your airways react to the things around you when you have asthma. They are called asthma triggers. They might cause symptoms or make them worse common asthma triggers include: 

  • Infections like sinusitis, colds, and the flu
  • Allergens such as pollens, mold, dust mites
  • Irritants, e.g. chemical products, perfumes, cleaning agents
  • Air pollution in cities 
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Exercise
  • Medications such as aspirin 
  • Strong emotions such as anxiety, laughter, sadness, or stress
  • Changes in the weather 

Asthma Risk Factors

Things that might make you more likely to have asthma include;

  • Your surrounding during conception or when you were growing up 
  • Your parents have asthma
  • Your genes
  • Your role
  • Your sex 
  • Your job 
  • Other conditions like lung infections, allergies, or obesity

Asthma Diagnosis

If you think you have asthma, see your doctor, who may refer you to a lung doctor (pulmonologist) or a specialist in allergy and immunology

Some tests show how well your lungs work. They include:

Spirometry: This simple breathing test measures how much air you blow out and how fast

Peak flow: measures how well your lungs push out air. They are used to fast your lungs even before you feel any symptoms

Methacholine challenge: This singular test involves using triggers or challenges. During this test, you inhale a chemical called met choline before and after spirometry to see if it makes your airways narrower. If your results fall at least 20%, you may have asthma. Your doctor will give you medicine to reverse the effects of the methacholine

Exhale nitric oxide test: this measures the amount of nitric oxide in your breath. Your body makes this gas normally but levels could be high if your airways are inflamed 

Chest X-ray: this is done to make sure nothing else is causing the symptoms 

Allergy tests: Once you get to know your allergy triggers you can get treatment to prevent them and asthma attacks 

Asthma Treatment

Asthma treatment includes:

Inhale corticosteroids: These medications prevent asthma in the long term. You take them every day to keep your asthma under control. Common corticosteroids include;

Betamethasone (QVAR)

Budesonide (Pulmicort)

Fluticasone (Arnuity, Ellipta, Armonair, Respiclick, Flovent)

Leukotriene modifiers: Another long-term asthma treatment; these medications block leukotriene, things in your body that trigger an asthma attack. Common leukotriene modifiers include Montelukast (Singular), Zafirlukast (Accolate)

Long-acting beta-agonist: These medications relax the muscle bands that surround your airways

Combination inhaler: This device gives you an inhaled corticosteroid and a long-acting beta-agonist together to ease your asthma. Common ones include:

Faudesonide and formoterol (Symbient)

Fluticasone and salmeterol (Advair Diskus, AirDuo Respiclick 

Theophylline: It opens your airways and eases tightness in your chest 

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