If you don’t know about asthma, you can read about it in any of the books available in the market. But it is terrible to see someone having an asthma attack before your eyes. The patients can have the attack anytime and their condition is of an absolute helplessness.
They feel suffocated despite being in fresh and open air. The reaction in their respiratory system (windpipe and lungs) leaves them wheezing. In absence of their ability to take oxygen for long, they feel restless just like one would feel when strangulated. The asthmatic attack can be fatal.
Asthma spares none. Anybody from any class, creed, race, gender, age group and weight group can suffer from asthma. It has been of late found to haunt even children and toddlers. The tragedy with the asthma patients has been that no treatment is universally effective for all.
Although asthma in children is reported to be completely curable, most of the patients need always to be ready with their medications. Though people know when they are most likely to need the medication, their calculations and guesses can ditch them anytime.
While there has been great progress in treatment of asthma, each patient still needs to have a prescription best suiting to his body. Cleanliness and precautions are the two tools that can lend an asthmatic patient an almost completely safe and sound life like that of any normal person.
What is asthma?
Going by the symptoms, asthma is a condition when one suffers from attacks of extremely troublesome breathing. It leads to suffocation (wheezing) and can be associated with sneezing and coughing. One may also encounter watery discharge from nose and eyes.
But asthma should not be taken as a disease of respiratory system. It is more than that. It is in fact an expression of a general condition on respiratory front. The general condition is that of allergy. So to understand asthma, it is important first to understand allergy.
What is allergy?
Allergy or hypersensitivity in medical terms refers to a condition when the body starts treating something harmless to it as harmful. It can be any element in the environment against which defenses of the body are activated. Depending on the nature of the mistaken element and the body’s response to it, allergy can be expressed in many varied forms.
It can be in the form of diarrhea in case one eats something which the body takes to be ‘enemy’. It can be allergic reaction on the skin when the element comes in contact to the skin and body cannot ‘bear’ it. It can be expressed in the form of efforts to expel the mistaken entity from lungs and respiratory tract once it is inhaled.
The last form of expression of allergy can lead to asthma. But before we come back to asthma it is important to underline that allergy is not a local condition with any body part. In case of allergy, entire body mistakes to take something harmless as harmful and behaves accordingly.
It is true at the level of defense mechanism in the blood too. There are certain cells in the blood that are put on alert mode to fight the foreign element. Eosinofilia is the condition that results when this particular type of blood cells increase disproportionally, misreading a heavy infection in the body.
Back to asthma
An asthmatic patient can otherwise be very normal like other people. But any of the known or unknown elements or conditions of environment can trigger asthma attack in which body behaves as if the patient has inhaled something poisonous.
The inhalation process is suppressed by overwhelming exhaling reflexes. This condition leads to suffocation. This can also be associated with coughing discharge of mucus from respiratory tract and even watery discharge from nostrils and eyes.
Mind all this is intended to expel something out of the respiratory tract. The patient tends to rush to somewhere new where he anticipates air to be free of that element. The suffocating patient would rush to outside from a congested room. He would try to run away from the dusty environs. And his efforts may relieve him to, but only partially in some cases.
In general, patients don’t generally get back to normalcy only on removing the irritating element from their surroundings. The hyperactivity of body is not subsided soon and they need immediate medication.
The medications include antihistamines (histamines being the chemicals released in body to trigger reaction against something foreign, something ‘enemy’ to the body) and even steroids. The purpose of the treatments is to suppress the hyperactivity. There are inhalers to dispense the chemicals directly to the lungs where they instantly act to dilate the bronchioles (the balloon like ultimate units of lungs).
Precautions with asthmatic drugs
The drugs are likely to lead to dependence and these also have some general side effects on the body. The life saving steroids and anti-allergic drugs are available in various forms today. But you need close examination and supervision by a physician so an optimum level of dose could be fixed to result in the least side-effects and dependence.
General precautions including cleanliness
A patient needs to have the prescribed medications always with him. He may need the drugs anytime anywhere.
The patients may be able to pinpoint what causes reactions in them. These can be dust, humidity, pollens in the environment. The patients may formulate on their own what season and what locations trigger the asthmatic attack or milder forms of reactions in them. A slight sore throat can be a good indication for them to be on alert.
For better knowing the exact causes that trigger allergic reactions one can get tested for allergy tests. This may help him to avoid those substances carefully. Moreover, the following tips can be of great practical use to lead a smooth life with asthma:
The residential place for such a person should be spacious and away from city pollution.
The residential place should be cleaned regularly. It should be dry and clean. The kitchen should be separate from the room and it should be cleaned regularly. The kitchen should be spacious and not the least suffocating.
The curtains and the beddings should be consciously made from favorable materials. It should not support dust and should be cleaned regularly.
The person should avoid drastic changes in weather for example by avoiding tiresome journeys.
Even extreme cold water and food stuff should be avoided, particularly in summers.
A good digestion is reported to have favorable effect on such patients.
Many patients feel benefited on taking bath after exposure to dust or any other known or unknown foreign substance that they fear may trigger asthma in them.