To healthy individuals, asthma may be a simple health problem but for the sufferers, it’s really a different thing especially when the attack is slowly setting in.
Asthma attacks happen when the air passages constrict. This may be due to allergens, air impurities, food, exercise or strenuous activities, and many others. Severe attacks are often characterized by wheezing or whistling sounds, dry cough, and breath-shortness. In an asthma attack, the air passage of the individual is clogged by mucus, the air tube’s lining is swelling or inflamed. Gasping for breathe is a dreaded situation for asthmatics and so you should try to prevent the attacks as much as possible.
There are several layers in the air tube. A muscle located outside relaxes or tightens and it is responsible for controlling the air tube’s opening. It is guided by the nervous system, particularly the portion for the reflexes. The muscle works like that of involuntary blinking.
You can’t control how the muscles work. The outside muscle of the air tube reacts to irritants like perfume, dust, allergens, pollution, pollen, or cigarette smoke by tightening or relaxing. In the case of asthma patients, the outside muscle overreacts to the irritants, thereby causing an attack.
Aside from reacting with irritants and allergens, the muscle also reacts to other factors like exercise, cold air, pressure changes, and viral infections. When the muscle tightens, the airway narrows.
Asthma attacks are not only limited to the tightening of the muscles of the air tube but it can be caused by the inflammation of the airway’s lining as well. Have you ever experienced scraping your knee? If you’re observant, you will notice that the knee area swells and a fluid oozes out. This fluid is made up of cells which fight the infection but it also contributes to swelling. The same thing happens in the airways. When the airways are inflamed, the lining oozes out fluid which contributes to swelling and at the same time, it obstructs the air passage.
Mucus found in the airways in not all that bad. It normally aids in the smooth flow of air into the lungs but during an asthma attack, the mucus increases and it clogs the air passage. The mucus becomes sticky making it more difficult to breathe. As long as the mucus clogs the air passage, the asthma attack will persist. You need to consult a doctor right away so that you can receive appropriate medical attention.
Keep in mind that if you leave the mucus clogs untreated, it can lead to infections. Only the doctor can give you the proper antibiotic that suits your situation. Attacks can last for a couple of minutes but for severe attacks, it can last for many hours or even days. There are intervals wherein the asthma patient will not feel any of the symptoms but it will soon return if no proper medication is given.
Doctors often conduct a breathing test to determine if the person has asthma and it is called spitometry. During the evaluation, several tests will be conducted to identify what caused the asthma attack. Once the trigger or triggers are identified, you need to stay away from them as much as possible. You have to work closely with your doctor if you want to prevent future asthma attacks. The attacks can be deadly, so don’t disregard them.