Respiratory Disease: Asthma

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April 24, 2024
April 24, 2024
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Respiratory Disease: Asthma



Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the lungs bringing about difficulty in breathing. It affects people of all ages. It is the most common respiratory condition among children. According to WHO, asthma affected more than 262 million people in 2019, causing more than 461 deaths. It causes swelling and inflammation of the airways or the bronchial tubes. When we breathe, air goes through the mouth or nose, down into the throat, into the airways, and finally into the lungs. The lungs have small air passages that allow the oxygen from the air to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Asthma causes the lining of these airways to swell, reducing the amount of air absorbed into the bloodstream. Mucus can also fill the airways, further blocking the air passage. The coughing and tightness of the chest occasioned by these conditions bring about what is called an asthma attack(Duhig).


The major signs of asthma are:

  1. Airway blockage: The muscles around the airways will tighten when you have asthma. During breathing, the muscles around the airways should be relaxed to allow free movement of air. However, when you have asthma, the muscles tighten, which makes it harder for air to pass through.
  2. Inflammation: asthma causes the bronchial tubes to be swollen, causing damage to the lungs.
  3. Irritability of the airway: asthma causes the airway to be sensitive and tends to overreact when they come into contact with triggers of an asthma attack.

The above conditions generate symptoms such as:

  1. Coughing
  2. Wheezing
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Tightness in the chest
  5. Fatigue
  6. Rapid breathing
  7. Trouble sleeping due to breathing problems
  8. Shortness of breath

When these symptoms become severe, an asthma attack occurs, which can range from mild to life-threatening. The swelling in the lungs can block air from reaching the lungs. N such circumstances, the bloodstream and vital organs will be deprived of oxygen(Kogler). The patient will require urgent medical attention.

People also experience different symptoms. Patients will have different symptoms at different times. The symptoms will also vary from one asthma attack to the other. Some patients can also go for days without experiencing an asthma attack, while others might have them daily. In some cases, patients will only have an asthma attack during exercise or when they have viral infections(Duhig).


The airways of asthmatic patients will react to the things around them. These triggers bring the symptoms or make them worse. The most common triggers are:

  1. Respiratory infections such as flu and sinusitis
  2. Allergens like dust mites or pollen
  3. Irritants such as strong perfumes or cleaning agents
  4. Tobacco smoke during pregnancy
  5. Exercise
  6. Change in temperature or humidity
  7. Strong emotions
  8. Food preservatives
  9. Some medications

Risk factors

  1. Genetics: when one parent, especially the mother has asthma, one is likely to develop the condition at some point in life.
  2. People with a history of viral infections in their childhood are at risk of developing asthma.
  3. When the immune system is not developed during early childhood, it may not be strong enough to fight allergic conditions such as asthma.


Asthma does not have a general exam to determine whether one has the condition. Doctors usually apply a number of criteria to ascertain whether the symptoms are due to asthma. Family health history of breathing disorders can help the doctor in diagnosing asthma. A physical exam where the doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to breathing patterns or a skin test to check for signs of allergic reactions is also used. The doctor should also conduct a breathing test to measure airflow into and out of the lungs. However, breathing tests are not conducted on children under the age of five years due to difficulty in getting accurate readings(Kogler). In such circumstances, the doctor prescribes asthmatic treatment and check whether the symptoms improve. If the medication improves the symptoms, then it is likely to be asthma.


There is no treatment for asthma. However, the patients use an inhaler for breathing in medicines to open the airways to get asthma under control. The inhaler can either be a reliever or preventer inhaler. Reliever inhalers are used to quickly relieve the symptoms in a short time. Preventer inhalers are used every day to prevent the onset of asthma symptoms.

Prevention and Management

  1. Staying away from the triggers helps keep asthma under control and prevents attacks.
  2. Ensure you follow the doctor’s instructions on taking asthma medications.
  3. Keep track of the symptoms to check whether they are worsening
  4. Getting vaccinated to lower certain conditions such as flu, pneumonia, whooping cough, and other respiratory conditions.


Asthma affects the lungs making it difficult for someone to breath. There is no definitive cause or cure for asthma. Therefore, it is challenging to know how to prevent this inflammatory condition. Preventing asthma attacks and symptoms is the only way to ensure one can live a normal life with the condition. Lifestyle and medication can decrease the symptoms and improve the quality of life. Bronchodilators are the most common treatments for asthma attacks and the management of symptoms.

Work Cited

Duhig, Holly. Understanding Asthma. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc, 2018.

Kogler, Peter. Asthma.Greenhaven Publishing LLC, 2018.

WHO.”Asthma”. Who.Int, 2021,