Asthma: The precautions

Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways which transport air to and from the lungs. No full cure is available but management methods can help a person with asthma lead a full and active life. In a person with asthma, the inside walls of the airways known as bronchial tubes become swollen or inflamed. This swelling or inflammation makes the airways extremely sensitive to irritations and increases their susceptibility to an allergic reaction. In an allergic reaction, the airways swell and the muscles around the airways tighten making it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs. The symptoms of asthma often present in periodic attacks or episodes of tightness in the chest, wheezing, breathlessness and coughing.

During the development of asthma, the airways swell and become extremely sensitive to some substance a person might inhale. When this increased sensitivity causes a reaction, the muscles that control the airways tighten. In doing so, they might restrict the airways even further and trigger an overproduction of mucus.

Worldwide, about 250,000 people die every year as a result of asthma. Asthma attacks occur when symptoms are at their peak. They might begin suddenly and can range from mild to severe. In some asthma attacks, swelling in the airways can completely prevent oxygen from reaching the lungs which also stops it entering the bloodstream and traveling to vital organs.

At the start of an asthma attack, the airways allow enough air into the lungs but it does not let the carbon dioxide leave the lungs at a fast enough rate. Carbon dioxide is poisonous if the body does not expel the gas and a prolonged asthma attack might lead to a buildup of the gas in the lungs, this might further reduce the amount of oxygen entering the bloodstream.

Allergies that trigger asthma are much and we have the indoor and outdoor allergies. Indoor allergies are animal proteins mostly from cat and dogs, animal furs, dust mites, fungi, and so on. Outdoor allergies are pollution, cold temperature, high humidity, and so on. Some other trigger can also be pregnancy, stress, genetics, atopy.

If you have asthma, you need to do what you can to cut your exposure to asthma triggers. Asthma triggers can aggravate your symptoms like coughing, wheezing and having a hard time catching your breath. While there is no cure, there are steps you can take to keep your asthma in control and prevent a frequent attack. These can be identify your asthma triggers, stay away from allergens, avoid smoke of any type, prevent colds, allergy-proof your home, get your vaccinations, take asthma medications as prescribed, follow your asthma action plan, use a home peak flow meter and, most important, always have your reliever (inhaler) with you always.

Aborishade Idunnuoluwa Abisola, Kwara State,