Asthma Research

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Asthma is a persistent respiratory disease that affects the lungs making respiratory difficult. This disease affects all a long time including children and adults. Asthma is characterised by the inflammation of the air passages main to narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs. When this happens, symptoms of allergies are manifested including wheezing, coughing in the early morning or at night and chest tightness. Additionally, shortness of breath is a signal that showcases in times of asthma attack. Various motives trigger this attack and are generally categorized as genetic or environmental factors. Even though this persistent disease affects all ages, young people are the most susceptible compared to adults. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute reports that in the US, more than 25 million people have asthma and about 3.5% of these are children (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute).

Overview of the Disease

It is vital for one to understand how the airways function to comprehend the way this condition affects a patient. Airways are passage tubes that carry air comprising of oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the lungs. Individuals with this condition have inflamed airways. For this reason, the airways of a person become swollen resulting in narrower airways. The inflammation of the passage tubes causes the cells in the airways to generate more mucus than usual. The stickiness of the mucus further makes the airways to be narrower. These chains of reactions result in asthma symptoms (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute). The symptoms can be mild and disappear on their own or after minimal treatment. Equally, the signs could continue to worsen and get intense leading to an asthma attack.

Causes of Asthma

Various factors trigger an asthma attack and comprise of environmental and hereditary factors. Exposure to some substances and irritants cause asthma and prompts its symptoms. These triggers vary from one individual to another. Here, airborne substances like dust mites, pollen, pet danger or mold spores can cause an asthma attack. Respiratory infections like common cold and intense physical activity lead to exercise-induced asthma. Additionally, cold air, irritants, and pollutants like smoke together with certain medications cause asthma. More importantly, one has to understand that stress and intense emotions, as well as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), initiate this condition (MedlinePlus). Asthma could also be hereditary. A family that has a history of this disease makes one susceptible to the attacks. All these triggers lead to inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes which are always used in gaseous exchange. Exposure to sensitive substances changes the regular breathing patterns of a person and thus the symptoms of asthma become fatal. In the US for instance, 26 million people are affected by asthma symptoms, and among these, 7 million are children. Asthma is one of the leading causes of absenteeism in school and workplace. Alhassan et al. note that half cases of asthma are genetic while half result from the environmental factors (Alhassan et al. 28).

Diagnosis

A complete medical history is required for the diagnosis of this health condition. The functionality of the lungs is generally examined and assessed to determine the level of severity. This is called lung function test. The doctor states whether the illness is mild, intermittent, moderate or severe. This is because the level of severity determines the type of treatment to be given. Specialists test are carried out to help in the diagnosis process. In the examination of medical and the history of the family, a doctor asks questions concerning the patient's family to determine if it has a history of asthma or allergies and how frequent the signs occur. Again, the doctor asks questions to know what could be the trigger for the asthma attack and if the symptoms worsen when this happens. Besides, any factor that could interfere with the management of the condition is also examined including psychological stress, sinus infections, and reflux disease.

In a physical examination, the doctor listens to the breathing patterns of the patient and identifies any signs of asthma such as running nose, coughing and wheezing. Diagnostic tests involve lung functioning tests where a test called spirometry is done to check the working of the patient’s lungs (Alhassan et al. 31). A spirometry test measures the amount of air a person can breathe in as well as how fast one can blow out air. Medicine is given and the test repeated to see if there are changes in the breathing patterns. Other diagnostic tests include allergy testing, a test to measure the sensitivity of the airways and chest x-ray test which determine if there is a foreign object causing the symptoms. Therefore, to accurately diagnose asthma, the doctor obtains a personal history, occupational history, physical examination, and pulmonary function test (spirometry). Also, the lung volumes and diffusing capacity together with peak expiratory flow monitoring are vital in the diagnosis of asthma (Alhassan et al. 32)

Treatment and Management

There is no cure for asthma illness. However, many types of treatment exist including quick-relief medicines and long-term control treatments. Also, immunotherapy helps in the treatment process. Many patients become reluctant in taking their medications either because of the cost incurred or the side effect. A specialist is used to determine the right medicine, and the amount of dose to be taken in controlling the condition. Short-acting inhaled beta2-agonists and anticholinergics are bronchodilators taken to expand the passage of the airways into the lungs. This allows more air to circulate in and out of the lungs while breathing and clear mucus along the airways. Again, long-term control medicines are taken on a daily basis in an attempt to prevent asthma symptoms and attack. They include anti-leukotrienes or leukotriene modifiers, cromolyn sodium, and inhaled corticosteroids (The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology). Furthermore, long-acting inhaled beta2-agonists, methylxanthines and oral corticosteroids along with immunomodulators are long-term medication by these patients. They effectively reduce the inflammation of the airway to help in the long-term management of the condition.

Immunotherapy comprises of allergy shots and sublingual tablets. Allergic shots relieve allergic symptoms if the attack is caused by an allergy. This treatment could take for some years and creates immunity to the offending allergic substances. It works through injection of small amounts of the allergen substance in the body and slowly increasing with time to build tolerance. Sublingual tablets are also a promising therapy but are not to be used when the condition is severe. Bronchodilators are used before involving in activities that might trigger an attack. Avoiding triggers likely to exacerbate the symptoms is one of the most effective treatment methods. Again, people with the condition are encouraged to get the annual vaccination because of increased chances of having respiratory infections like pneumonia and influenza.

Asthma Data Statistics

According to a survey done by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015, more than 18 million people above 18 years in the US have asthma. The same research stipulates that more than 6 million children below the age of 8 years are living with this condition. In 2014, asthma claimed 3,651 lives (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Notably, adhering to proper treatment could help in reducing the number of deaths culminating from asthma disease. Education to create awareness is necessary to aid in informing people on the need to stick to their asthma treatment plan.

Risk Factors

MedlinePlus indicates that smokers are more prone to asthma attacks than people who do not smoke. Again, the condition is more likely to develop in adult women compared to men (MedlinePlus). However, asthma is prevalent in young boys than girls. Besides, obesity is termed to be a critical factor that could make one develop asthma disease contrary to non-obese individuals. Again, black people stand a greater chance of getting asthma compared to the whites. The risk also doubles in black children as opposed to the whites (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Developing Action Plan

An individualized action plan is a fundamental factor in the control and management of asthma. This action plan helps the patient to know when and how to take medication. Again, it stipulates when a physician should be contacted or when to seek emergency attention from a hospital.

Conclusion

Certainly, asthma is a long-term chronic disease that could be life-threatening if not attended to seek treatment. This respiratory condition affects the lungs and the airways making breathing a major problem. The disease could be caused by hereditary or environmental factors. Again, factors such as obesity, race, gender and smoking increase the susceptibility to the condition. Its symptoms include wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest. Asthma is also triggered by infections and allergic substances. Diagnosis includes a physical and historical examination as well carrying out pulmonary function test. There is no known cure for asthma, but short term and long term treatments are available. Patients should adhere to the treatment plans for effective management of the disease.

Works Cited

Alhassan, Sulaiman, et al. “Asthma.” Critical Care Nursing Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 2, 2016, pp. 110–123., doi:10.1097/cnq.0000000000000104.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Asthma’s Impact on the Nation.” 15 June 2016, www.cdc.gov/asthma/impacts_nation. Accessed 27 September. 2017

MedlinePlus. Asthma. US National Library. https://medlineplus.gov/asthma.html. Accessed 27 September. 2017

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute “What Is Asthma?”. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 4 Aug. 2014, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/asthma. Accessed 27 September. 2017

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Asthma. 2017. www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma. Accessed 27 September. 2017.

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