Termed under a common lung disorder in which inflammation causes the bronchi to swell and narrow the airways, asthma is known for creating breathing difficulties that may attack any age group or set of individuals. Asthma is a long-term disease that has no cure, but it can be controlled by following the right dose of medications. Is asthma a lifelong condition? This is a very pertinent question, and the answer lies in your individual response to two supplementary questions. Do you take your medication regularly? Are you happy with the way you are minimizing exposure to allergens that trigger the asthma attack? If the answer is not satisfactory to either question, you could be saddled with asthma complications that are not only serious but lifelong and life-threatening. If you are managing your symptoms and taking your medicines regularly, you can lead a healthy and normal life, just like many others.
Asthma and Its Consequences on Health Over the Long Term
Today, the symptoms may be a recurring cough, a tightening of the chest, and a wheezing sound as you attempt to breathe normally. The symptoms may be the same as associated with the common cold, and that proves to be no cause for worry unless the same symptoms grow alarmingly under the umbrella of repeated asthmatic attacks and wheezing, where the air passages could suffer from some serious damage. Once damaged beyond repair, the lungs may stop responding to asthma medication, and physical fatigue may take over.
COPD and Asthma Compared
Unlike COPD, the consequences of which may be short-lived if medicines are regularly administered, asthma has long-term drawbacks. Diminishing oxygen to tissues creates fatigue and inactivity that characterize as symptoms of chronic asthma; sometimes these same symptoms may make the patients prone to obesity. Youngsters and smaller children could show irregularities in growth pattern, destabilized bone mass, chest pain, and loss of appetite, especially in younger children. This may also lead to diminished activity of adrenal hormones, which is fraught with long-term complications. In kids under age 5, the most common cause or trigger of asthma-like symptoms is upper respiratory viral infections, such as the common cold. If your child has problems related to breathing, you must take him or her to the doctor immediately for an evaluation, as asthma is often difficult to diagnose in infants. However, in older children, the disease can often be diagnosed based on the child's medical history, symptoms, and physical health exam.
Asthma may continue as a long-term affliction, but with manageable symptoms
Is asthma curable? The answer would be a decisive no. With proper medication and therapy, the condition can be managed but not completely cured or ruled out. The most widely used therapy is the inhaler, suffusing a minute spray of medicine deep into the lungs with each inhalation.
The medicated inhaler works in two simple ways –
• It loosens up the muscles tightening the airways, making the bronchioles larger and allowing more air with each breath you take. The air passes more easily and effectively.
• It fights inflammation and desensitizes the lungs to asthma triggers so that lung tissues can resume normal functions of the body, resuming as if nothing happened.
It is important to understand that inhalers help us manage the symptoms of asthma without curing the underlying condition. They are an instant approach to grasp relief in times of sudden asthma attacks, but they can never help the specialist in diagnosing the root cause of the condition.
What we can do to minimize long-term complications of asthma
Asthma can be triggered from a varied number of outdoor allergens and irritants, such as pollen and mold to cold atmosphere and air pollution. Staying up to date with vaccinations can prevent the flu and pneumonia from triggering asthma flare-ups. An individual must always be aware of his triggers so that he may opt for the best methods to avoid it. Some additional tips given below might help in curing the infection, too:
• If you are seriously addicted to smoking, give up this habit, as it only complicates asthma and damages airways irreparably
• Keep the inhaler as your constant and accessible companion, and stick to the therapy that your doctor has advised for you
• If symptoms get aggravated, never forget to maintain a note of the most relevant emotional and environmental factors that could have triggered the episode, and report them to your physician
• Dander is one serious trigger of asthma, as proteins found in your pet’s saliva, feces, urine, hair, and skin all cause symptoms that irritate the respiratory system
• Cockroaches, bugs, and their droppings are all potential asthma triggers. If you discover a cockroach problem, take immediate steps to eliminate them. Vacuum, sweep, and mop any areas where you see cockroaches. You can also seek help from an exterminator or use roach gels to reduce the number of bugs in your home
• Ask your partner, spouse, or colleague to alert you to physical or behavioral changes that you might have ignored
The nature and scope of asthma medication can change over a lifetime
The degree of control that one exercises over lifestyle choices, like smoking, diet, and exercise, will influence the path asthma takes. The steroids in inhalers produce undesirable side effects when their use is prolonged. The ideal situation is one where you are in a position to avoid the environmental and emotional triggers of asthma without depending overly on medication. Fortunately, tests such as the Lung Function Test (LFT) tell us accurately how well our medication is tolerated and how effectively our self-restraint is working. This helps us leverage medical care more efficiently.
The last word
Whatever the root causes that aggravate your asthma, never underestimate the role played by stress in your life. Reducing one’s workload, dumping down expectations, adopting a more realistic outlook, and reducing tensions to the bare minimum will also contribute to keeping asthma at bay. Nevertheless, always maintain regular health checkups and meetings with your doctor to minimize the effects caused by asthma.