Breathe deeply, until sweet air extinguishes the burn of fear in your lungs and every breath is a beautiful refusal to become anything less than infinite. – D. Antoinette Foy
There is something that we take for granted, and breathing is such an intrinsic activity, that a baby is able to perform within 10 seconds of being born. In the womb, the babies’ lungs are filled with fluid, but after delivery, babies take their first breath. Oxygen is the elixir of life, and by the process of respiration-inhalation of oxygen from the environment and exhalation of carbon dioxide produced by the body, we sustain life. With the cessation of breathing, we bid adieu to our mortal life. When this universal activity becomes problematic, we understand its importance. Asthma is an inflammatory disease that obstructs the passageway of the lungs, which makes breathing difficult. The bronchioles show significant swelling and get filled with mucus. It is a chronic condition that doesn’t have a permanent cure but it can be controlled to lead an almost normal life.
Warning signs to look out for:
· Shortness of breathe
· Chest tightness
· Wheezing sound while breathing
· Coughing, especially during the night
· Inability to sleep
For some people, they are diagnosed with asthma, only when they have a severe “asthma attack”. Even from chronic sufferers, sometimes the symptoms can go out of hand. Be aware of these severe symptoms, as you might need to visit the ER:
· You feel breathless even when idle or with minimal activity
· Extreme wheezing accompanied by coughing
· No respite even after taking your inhaler and medication.
Triggers for asthma
Asthma can be triggered by various factors, and it differs from person to person. So keep a note of the things or factors that can lead to the onset of an asthma attack. Some of the common triggers are:
· Health issues like common cold, sinusitis, and flu.
· Allergens like pollen, dust mites, mold spores, and animal danders.
· Smoke, fumes, strong odors, and perfume smells
· Strong emotions like stress or sadness
· Strenuous exercise
· Sudden change in weather like cold, or during the onset of monsoon.
· Certain medications like ibuprofen and aspirin
· Food items like wine, shrimp and prawns, dried foods and other consumable items with preservatives
· Acid reflux
Some people are more at risk than others. Below are mentioned some of the risk factors for asthma:
· A parent or sibling suffers from asthma
· Existing allergic condition like eczema or allergic rhinitis
· Smoker or inhaling second-hand smoke
· Exposed to smoke or other pollutants
· Exposure to chemicals and other
Different kinds of asthma that can hamper normal life
Allergic asthma is often seasonal in nature and is triggered by allergens like dust, pollen, certain food items, and mold. Avoiding the triggers and taking necessary precautions can minimize your chances of an asthma attack.
Non-allergic asthma can be triggered by cigarette smoke, fumes, and exhausts, products with a strong smell like cleaning agents and perfumes. Identify the trigger and avoid such items.
Occupational asthma is caused by people who work in certain industries.
Exercise-induced asthma, nocturnal asthma, and cough-variant asthma are other kinds of asthma.
It has been found that asthma is more common in women than in men. Women are more exposed to household cleaning products, allergens while cleaning spree and also to strong smells of perfumes. Thus, asthma attacks can become more frequent and severe.
Preventive steps to keep asthma at bay
· Follow the asthma plan at discussed with the pulmonologist, with regular monitoring and medication.
· Get vaccinated for pneumonia and flu, the most common triggers that lead to inflammation and mucus formation in the bronchial passageway. Prevent catching a cold.
· Identify the triggers
· Monitor your medication and keep a tab on the frequency with which you use your quick-relief inhaler.
· Make lifestyle changes like quit smoking, get regular exercise and follow a healthy diet.
· Keep your home allergen-free.
Asthma during pregnancy
Since young women are more susceptible to bouts of an asthma attack, thus it is not surprising that many pregnant women complain of mild to moderate breathing troubles during the period of gestation. The symptoms are worse during the third trimester, as the growing fetus can make breathing labored. Untreated asthma can lead to complications like severe morning sickness, preeclampsia, and preterm labor.
Women living with asthma need to be extremely cautious with their surroundings and maintain a clean and hygienic home. With proper medication and lifestyle changes, you can enjoy your life uninterrupted. Remember to carry your inhaler at all time,
Breathe free. Stay free.