Death resulting from asthmatic attack is still on the rise. These deaths are known be unnecessary especially as experts believe it shouldn’t be fatal. Since the main reason why asthma occurs is largely unknown more emphasis is paid on how to carefully manage it rather than looking for a cure. To be able to manage this lung disease successfully one needs to know how the system functions. In normal breathing, air goes through the nostrils against the mucus that surrounds the air passages.
This is where impurities like dust and germs are trapped. There are also tiny hairs (cilia) in the nasal passages that get rid of old mucus and trapped impurities are coughed up. When swallowed the mixture goes to the stomach where acid juices in the digestive tract act on them and remove it from the body. From the pharynx (or voice box), the trachea or windpipe extends downwards. The tube divides into two bronchi, one that goes into the left lung and another that goes to the right. The bronchi yet divide again into smaller passages with smooth muscles in tiny bands surrounding them.
Subsequently, they turn microscopic.
Then, reaching the end of these bronchioles (tiny bronchi), we get to the alveoli which is a tiny sac that is like a balloon. That is where the carbon dioxide and oxygen are transported to and from the blood every time the alveoli contracts and expands during breathing. There are three things that occur in an asthmatic attack that disturbs this process. For an allergen that goes past the defences right through the over sensitive airways, it irritates the bronchi.
Consequently, an inflammation will cause the muscle band surrounding the bronchi to tighten. This narrows the air passages and restricts its flow. Also because of the irritation, more mucus is produced and cells swell more. This results in a very thin lumen which is the length of the bronchi and then the subsequent asthma attack. It is still a mystery why some people with allergies suffer an asthma attack and others with allergies don’t.
The new guidelines have emphasized that the main cause of asthma is a chronic inflammation. Where asthma became asthma in the air passages was earlier termed as a spasm. The aerosol anti-inflammatory drug is more effective and with less aftereffect than bronchodilators (the normal inhalers that sufferers rely on). If both drugs are used together on a regular basis, it can keep the air passages open and clearer. Certainly, the proper drug regimen is of little use if the patient does not give full cooperation. Firstly, there should be good communication with your doctor and he should be informed should you decide to quit a medication.
Education should come second here. This requires knowing the basics like when the inhaler is getting finished. It is not sufficient to just shake it, it is better to immerse it into the water to know when it is floating (empty) or sinking (full).
Always having a backup is also important in case you misjudge. The third thing to do is to perform a function test of the pulmonary. This will help you to know how you are doing.
The peak flow monitor and the spirometry are the two best effective tests. The peak flow monitor checks the maximum air that can be blown out.
The spirometry checks how well air is flowing in and out of the lungs. These tests can be done daily to inform yourself on what to expect from your lungs for that day.
You can also communicate with your doctor should you be short of the baseline you fix for yourself.
The fourth, which is very important, is avoiding allergies.
You can manage your asthma and live your normal life if you use your medication properly. However, controlling it requires you to understand that it is a complex disease that necessitates a lifetime commitment.
The rewards are substantial, with the quality of life improved by taking asthma out of the way. The best way to keep up with it is to keep on studying and learning more about it.