Asthma is an intermittent disorder that is primarily associated with children and teenagers, as some people age-out of the symptoms. The condition is marked by what is known as asthma attacks, which include an onset of shortness of breath that is often accompanied by coughing, wheezing, and tiredness. But the primary worry for someone having an attack is simply getting enough air.
The condition is marked by inflammation or congestion of the bronchial tubes. This is brought on by congestion that occurs when the tubes are blocked by a mucus-like substance. This occurs along with inflammation of the tubes, which makes drawing in air even more difficult.
When an attack occurs, the muscles around the bronchial tubes contract or go into spasms, which is called a bronchospasm. During an attack, the tubes become inflamed and more mucus is produced. The three problems occurring at once make it difficult to draw a breath.
Asthma listed as the leading chronic disease that affects children in the United States. Ten percent to 12 percent of children in the country have asthma. In addition, many cases go undiagnosed, because the parents or local healthcare professionals believe the child has bronchitis, which has similar symptoms.
Asthma can be dangerous. During a severe attack, a peak flow meter will show breathing down to 50 percent of normal. When breathing, as measured by a peak flow meter, is down to 80 percent, it is recommended that the patient seek treatment.
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping
- Exhaustion – either sudden onset or general fatigue
- Difficulty talking
- Chest pain – a constricted, tight feeling in the chest
- Breaking into sweats
Asthma attacks can be a daily occurrence for some. Severe cases include people experiencing several attacks a day. There is medication to control asthma, but the sudden onset is distressing, especially if the patient isn’t carrying the medication with them. Some people with asthma carry an inhaler with them at all times.
The severity can also be measured by how long it takes for the medicine to work or how difficult it is to get air into your lungs. As such, asthma suffers must learn how to recognize the early signs of an attack, to ensure they have medication with them at the right time. Anticipating an attack can be a tremendous help.
- Coughing, wheezing, fatigue – the same as the previous list of symptoms.
- Added to that, fatigue during exercise
- Sore throat
With a condition like asthma, it is critical that patients learn to respond with adequate judgments and reactions to an asthma attack. A response to a severe attack should include a quick decision to make it to a hospital or an appropriate doctor, but patients also learn to keep what is called a rescue inhaler or a bronchodilator within easy reach. These are devices that easily fit in a pocket. Patients breathe the medicine into their bronchial tubes and lungs. The medicine relaxes muscles to help control muscle spasms.
The inhaler medication normally includes one or a combination of the following:
- Short-acting beta-antagonists
- Oral corticosteroids
Make a Call
Are you wheezing, out of breath? Do you have a child who is easily fatigued or can’t seem to always pull in enough air? Call Pacific Medical Care in San Diego at 619-333-8114 for an appointment.