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FAQ and answers for Asthma

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1. What is an asthma attack?

An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms caused by constriction of muscles around the airways (bronchospasm). During an asthma attack, the lining of the airways becomes swollen, inflamed and thicker mucus is produced. All of these factors cause symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

2. What is status asthmaticus?

Status asthmaticus is severe asthma attack that does not respond to standard asthma treatment. Although reversible, it is life-threatening, as it can lead to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. The condition requires immediate treatment.

3. What is wheezing? Do all asthmatics wheeze?

Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound produced by air flowing through narrowed respiratory airways. Not all asthmatics wheeze and all that wheezes is not asthma. Infections such as common cold or pneumonia can block airways with mucus and cause wheezing in people without history of asthma. Wheezing is also seen in patients with emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

4. Is asthma hereditary?

Asthma itself is not hereditary but there is a hereditary component in the tendency to develop asthma. The risk of having a child with asthma may be six times higher if both parents have history of asthma than if just single parent had the disease. Other risk factors, which influence the tendency to develop asthma, include childhood exposure to factors such as irritants, allergens and frequent respiratory infections.

5. What is occupational asthma?

Occupational asthma is a lung disease in which the airways overreact to dusts, vapors, chemical or gases that exist in the workplace. It is usually reversible but permanent lung damage can occur if exposure to the substance continues for a long period.

6. Can gastric reflux trigger asthma?

Gastric reflux is the regurgitation of food or acid from the stomach and can commonly trigger an asthmatic attack.

7. How is asthma treated?

Mild asthma is usually treated with short-acting bronchodilators. Treatment of moderate-to-severe asthma should aim to alleviate both the constriction and inflammation of the airways through the use of both bronchodilators and antiinflammatories. Bronchodilators are drugs that dilate the constricted airways while antiinflammatories (usually inhaled corticosteroids) reduce inflammation of the airways.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: June 14, 2015

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