Asthma is an inflammatory disease that affects the airways of the lungs. It can cause difficulty in breathing and make it very challenging or almost impossible to do some certain tasks. It is a chronic condition which is has no known cure yet but can be managed.

Asthma affects millions of people around the world with 25 million in America alone. In 2019 it caused 461,000 deaths across the world.

When a normal person breaths, the muscles around the airways are relaxed making air to move easily but during an asthmatic attack the muscles around the airways constrict (tighten) causing the airways to become narrow. As you know when something becomes narrow it will be difficult for things to pass through it. When the airways of the lungs become narrow, air cannot flow freely. This tightening of the airways is called Bronchospasm.  As a result of this the airway will become inflamed causing mucus to fill the airways, which will reduce the amount of air that can pass through it.

When these conditions take place asthmatic attacks will begin with symptoms of cough and tightness of the chest.


There different types of asthma and they include:

  • Allergic asthma:  This is the asthma triggered by allergens. It is the most type of asthma. The allergens include dust, food, pollen grains, mold, pet dander from animals like dogs and cats. Allergic asthma is seasonal because it appears when it is the season of those allergens.
  • Non allergic asthma: This is the asthma that is not caused by allergens but by irritants and pollutants in the air. The irritants includes:

Cigarette smoke

  • Burning wood
  • Cold air
  • Viral infections.
  • Air fresheners and perfumes
  • Polluted air
  • Occupational asthma: This type of asthma is caused by triggers in the place of work. The triggers in the work place include:
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Fumes and gases
  • Dust
  • Dyes
  • Proteins from animals.

These irritants are mostly found in industries such as manufacturing, textiles, farming, and wood work industries.

  • Exercise – induced bronchoconstriction (EIB):  This type of asthma is usually triggered when people exercise within the first few minutes of starting and few minutes after ending. This type of asthma was formally called Exercise- induced asthma. Most people with asthma experience this type of asthma.
  • Nocturnal asthma: This is the type of asthma where the symptoms worse at night. Heart burns, pet dander, dust mites are suspected to be the triggers of nocturnal asthma. The sleep cycle of a person can also trigger this type of asthma
  • Aspirin –induced asthma: This type of asthma is triggered when people take aspirin or other NSAIDS such as ibuprofen.
  • Cough – variant asthma (CVA):  This is the type of asthma that is characterized by persistent dry cough. Common symptoms associated with asthma are usually absent in CVA. This type of asthma can become a full blown asthma if it is not treated on time.


Asthma symptoms can include the following:

  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest or chest pain
  • Coughing mostly at night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fast breathing
  • Sleeping troubles

The symptoms may worsen or not improve even with the use of inhaler and may result in these severe symptoms:

  • Severe difficulty in breathing
  • Gasping for air
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Experiencing confusion
  • Paleness or blueness of lips or finger nails
  • Difficulty in walking or talking

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these severe symptoms.


Researchers are yet to find the cause of asthma. But certain factors can increase the chances of developing asthma which include:

  • Allergies: When a person is allergic to some things the risks of developing asthma will be high.
  • Genetics: if your family has a history of asthma there is a possibility that you will asthmatic
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to toxins, fumes, allergies, second – or – third hand smoke in the environment can trigger the development of asthma especially in infants and young children whose immune systems are not fully developed.
  • Respiratory infections: Respiratory infections such as Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can cause asthma in young children.


Anybody can have asthmatic attack when they come in contact with things that can trigger. These triggers may cause instant asthmatic attacks but to some other people an attack may start hours or days later.

It is important to know that what can lead to an asthmatic attack in A may not cause it in B. But the more common triggers include:

  • Air pollution: Air pollutants such as wild fire smoke, car exhaust, factory emissions and many more can trigger of asthmatic attacks.
  • Exercise:  Exercising can trigger off the occurrence of asthmatic attack in some people.
  • Cigarette smoke: Smoking or inhaling tobacco smoke (second – hand smoking) can trigger asthmatic attacks especially in an enclosed area like car or home.  The best thing to do is to quit smoking or stay away from people who smoke because both smoking and inhaling smoke from people who smoke can stir up asthmatic attacks.
  • Smoke from burning wood or grass: Smoke from these places contains harmful gases or particles which when inhaled can trigger asthmatic attacks. It is advisable to avoid burning wood in your home.  This might be a very difficult thing to do especially for people in places where firewood is used for cooking.
  • Food and food allergies: Any food can cause an allergic reaction. Food additives and preservatives are believed to cause allergies in some people and these allergies can then lead to asthmatic.
  •  Respiratory infections: Respiratory diseases such as the common cold, flu, sinus infections, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
  • Negative emotional states:  Negative emotional states such as depression,stress, anxiety, fear can trigger an asthmatic attack.
  • Certain medications: Medications such non steroidal anti- inflammatory drugsIbuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are the most  common drugs that can trigger asthmatic attacks.

Some other triggers of asthma can include:

  • Pests
  • Extreme environmental weather condition.


 The diagnosis of asthma begins with studying the family history of the patient and then carrying out physical examination. 

Family history: If you have family members with asthma the risks of developing this breathing condition is very high.

Physical examination: The doctor can use a stethoscope to listen to your breathing. Skin tests can also be carried out check for any sign of allergic reaction such as eczema.

Breathing tests:  The doctor can conduct a pulmonary function tests (PFTs) which measures the airflow into and out of your lungs. The more common of these tests is the spirometry where you blow into a device that measures the speed of the air.

Breathing tests are not usually conducted on children less than 5 years because it will be difficult to get an accurate result. The doctor will prescribe asthma medication for your child instead. If the symptoms improve then the child has asthma.

Bronchodilator or other asthma medication may be prescribed by your doctor if test results are pointing towards asthma for adults. If condition improves with this medication the doctor will treat your condition as asthma.


There is no cure yet for asthma, but you can alleviate and prevent symptoms.

The type of treatment methods that can be used to help people with asthma depends on how severe the symptoms are.  The severity of asthma can be:

  • Intermittent:  This is when the asthma does not interfere with daily activities. The symptoms are mild and can last for few days in a week or few days in a month.
  • Mild persistent:  The symptoms of this disease appear more than twice a week but not every day of the week and up to 4 nights per month.
  • Moderate persistent: Here the symptoms manifest daily and at least 1 night a week. Some daily activities may be limited.
  • Severe persistent:  This is the worst of them all. Symptoms occur several times a day and in most nights. Daily activities of the sufferer will be greatly affected.

Asthma symptoms can be alleviated through quick – relief and long term control medications.

Quick–relief asthma treatments:  These are medications used to get quick relief from asthma symptoms if an attack occurs. Bronchodilators are used to provide quick relief as it relaxes the tightened muscles around the airways which will reduce symptoms quickly.  Bronchodilators are most commonly taken with an inhaler or nebulizer. It can also be taken orally or injected.

Long- term asthma control medications: These medications are used to provide daily relief from asthma symptoms. They may not provide relief if you have an asthmatic attack. The long- term asthma control medications include:

  • Anti –inflammatories:  These medications are used to reduce swelling and mucous production in the airway which will help to make easier for you to breathe.
  • Long –acting Bronchodilators:  These are bronchodilators that have long lasting effects. They should be used in combination with anti –inflammatory asthma medications.
  • Anticholinergics: These are used to prevent the tightening of the muscles of the airways. You should take them daily in combination with anti-inflammatories.

When asthma is so severe that it does not respond to treatment doctors use what is called Biologics. These biologics are used to target specific antibodies in the body, disrupting the pathway that leads to asthma-causing inflammation.


The cause of asthma still remains unknown and so there are no specific methods to prevent the development of asthma.

However the things to do to prevent asthma attacks are much available and they include:

  • Stay away from things that can trigger asthma attacks.
  • Avoid exposure to allergens.
  • Take your medications regularly which can help to prevent the occurrence of asthma attack.
  • Stop smoking if you do and stay away from people that smoke.
  • Eat balanced diet
  • Minimize stress because stress can trigger off asthma attack.
  • Maintain a schedule of exercising daily. Although physical activities can trigger off asthma attacks, regular exercising can actually reduce the occurrence of an attack.

By Ekene Arodiogbu

Ekene Arodiogbu is the CEO of Excedel World. He loves to listen to good music and watch movies in his spare time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights