Healthy Living

Is Asthma Preventable?

Though a permanent cure is not yet on the horizon, preventive measures can alleviate the distress of asthma.

Is Asthma Preventable?

Asthma is a respiratory disease which has two main components - inflammation or swelling with excess mucus build-up in the airways, and airway constriction with tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways. Treating both components of the disease is necessary for many patients to achieve optimal asthma control and to help prevent symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Whether mild or life-threatening, these symptoms can interfere with sleeping and disrupt daily life. The disease itself is incurable, however the symptoms can be managed to provide a high quality of life for many patients.

Have regular asthma checkups with your doctor so he or she can assess your level of asthma control and adjust your treatment as needed. Remember, the main goal of asthma treatment is to achieve the best control of your asthma using the least amount of medicine. This may require frequent adjustments to your treatment.

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The realization that asthma is incurable need not be taken like a death sentence. On the contrary, it is well within everybody’s abilities to prevent asthma from wreaking havoc on their lives. Asthma can occur at any age, although it most often begins early in life. Young children who have frequent respiratory infections, frequent bouts of cold, cough and episodes of wheezing are at the risk of developing asthma that continues beyond age six and is there for life. Other risk factors include having eczema -an allergic skin condition. Asthma can be hereditary too, if even one parent is an asthma patient. Physicians diagnose asthma based on the patient’s medical history, a physical examination, results from lung function tests, checking the airways of the lungs, and other measures.

Although there is no cure for asthma, once diagnosed with asthma, the patient has to live a life fearing asthma attacks. With the right care, most people with asthma can minimize their symptoms, prevent asthma flare-ups, and improve their quality of life.

Yes, asthma can be prevented, and here's how:

Understanding Asthma is the First Step in Preventing its Recurrence

Asthma is a condition complicated by genetically-transferred predispositions that are worsened by exposure to environmental allergenic triggers. Simply said, asthma is triggered partly by your DNA, and partly by your environment. These allergens inflame the cells lining airways, fill the spaces with excessive phlegm, and make the airways constrict. This narrows the pathways, making it almost impossible for air to pass through. If your asthma is triggered primarily by environmental factors, the best strategy would be to eliminate or at least minimize exposure to those allergens.

Many factors play a role in the increase in asthma patients which includes air pollution, climate change, environmental allergens, respiratory infections, and stress. Parents can minimize the chance that children will have wheezing attacks by keeping the home free of dust, cobwebs, mites, animal dander and cockroaches. To protect children from infections that can trigger asthma, parents should ensure that children keep on up-to-date on their immunizations.

It is sad to know that one of the major causes of asthma and many other childhood afflictions is smoking. Parents who smoke are more likely to have premature babies whose lungs are more prone to developing asthma. Once the baby is born, parental smoking makes the asthma come on more frequently and worsens attacks. Second hand smoking is the culprit here. Without realizing what they are doing, parents can pass on this disease to their children.

Your Simple Guide to Avoiding the Worst Allergens

1.   External or Environmental Preventive Measures

  • Filtering Your Air to the Highest Extent Possible

If you cannot change the air in your city, the least you could do is control the air you breathe at home by filtering out the worst villains that cause allergic reactions. To do this you can upgrade your heating, refrigeration and air-conditioning systems thoroughly by installing filters and updating old parts as necessary. This will help you filter out musty molds, pesky pollen, and dirty dust mites. In the process, you may successfully eliminate known and unknown particulate matter, toxins, and bacteria that contaminate and spread infection and sickness.

  • Controlling the Level of Moisture Around You

Excessive moisture or dryness in the air around you can trigger asthma. You could achieve your desired level of comfort by using machines that dampen and control the level of water vapor in the air. A note of caution is that you must not allow too much vaporization of water because that would encourage mold growth, which can itself contribute to asthma. Be sure to find the level of humidity that works best for you. Using water after distillation would be ideal, as it would be free of minerals that encourage bacterial growth.

  • Tackling Radon Levels in the Home

Radon is a known allergen that goes beyond asthma and creates a host of complications ending, many times, in lung cancer. Radon testing kits are available at many hardware stores, and allow you to assess whether the gas levels in your home are within tolerable boundaries. If you have crossed the danger mark, you need expert radon-alleviating services.

2.   Internal or Biological Control Measures

  • The Immunological Initiative

It has been clinically proven that over 80% of asthma is triggered by external allergens that reach us through smoke particles, polluted air, dust, and insect and animal contaminants. An immunotherapist would suggest directly injecting regular doses of allergens, in minute samples, into the body. The intention is to stimulate the immune system to develop stronger antibodies that will neutralize the allergen when it actually comes around. 

  • The Short-Term and Long-Duration Medication Route

Basically, there are two kinds of medicines that boost asthma treatment:

  • The short-duration, fast-acting meds that shoot from the hip and dilate the airways in the lungs, which make it possible to continue breathing without hindrance. They take care of the immediate problem but are not to be used on a daily basis.
  • The other group of medications tackles lung inflammation, airway constriction and excess fluid accumulation over a longer term. These meds ensure that the core symptoms of asthma do not establish a stronger foothold in the lungs and damage the breathing process.

Both meds are administered as part of an asthma action plan that will be implemented by you and your doctor. The progress of the treatment is monitored using Lung Function Tests (LFTs) that measure lung efficiency along well-known parameters.

The meds are directed in three ways – as oral tablets, as a liquid, or as a vapor, using handheld inhalers or larger machines called nebulizers.

  • The Self-Prevention Measure that Bodes Well for Asthma Control

Doctors encourage the use of a Peak Flow Meter to help measure how effectively lungs breathe air. The first step would be to measure and take note of the reading when conditions are perfect, and the body is free from asthmatic responses. This reading becomes the benchmark to compare with the readings following an asthma attack to judge how far you have progressed under the new medication regime. It is also an effective way to judge how successful you are in preventing allergens from complicating your asthma.