Asthma: What you need to knowIf you frequently experience shortness of breath or you hear a whistling or wheezy sound in your chest when you breathe, you may have asthma.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs. Asthma attacks all age groups but often starts in childhood. According to WHO estimates, 235 million people suffer from asthma globally. Although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disorder and enable people to enjoy good quality of life.

People with a family history of allergies or asthma are more prone to developing asthma. In addition, some children with milder forms of asthma outgrow their symptoms with age. If people with asthma are exposed to a substance to which they are sensitive or a situation that changes their regular breathing patterns, the symptoms can become more severe.

Many people with asthma also have allergies. This is called allergic asthma. People who suffer from this chronic condition (long-lasting or recurrent) are said to be asthmatic. Asthmatics usually experience these symptoms most frequently during the night and the early morning. Symptoms may occur several times in a day or week in affected individuals, and for some people become worse during physical activity.


  • wheezing (a hissing sound while breathing)
  • chest tightness
  • breathing problems
  • coughing

What triggers an asthma attack?

Some triggers are common to all people with asthma, and some are more individual. But the common causes include the followings:
• Many people with asthma have allergies which can trigger asthma symptoms. Common allergens include house dust mites, animal dander, moulds, and pollen, as well as cockroach droppings.
Tobacco smoke is an irritant that often aggravates asthma. Your asthma may also be irritated by air pollution, strong odours or fumes.
• Many patients with asthma develop asthma symptoms when exercising. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB).
• Some medications can cause or worsen asthma symptoms. These include aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, and beta-blockers, which are used to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, migraine headaches or glaucoma.
Emotional anxiety and stress may also increase asthma symptoms and trigger an attack. Proper rest, diet and exercise are important for your overall health and can help in managing asthma.
Viral and bacterial infections such as the common cold and sinusitis.
Exposure to cold, dry air or weather changes.
Acid reflux, with or without heartburn.


Although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disease and enable people to enjoy a good quality of life. People with persistent symptoms must take long-term medication daily to control the underlying inflammation and prevent symptoms and exacerbations.

According to Asthma and Allergy foundation, USA, you take most asthma medicines by breathing them in using an inhaler or nebuliser.


For inhalers to work well, you must use them correctly. There are two types of inhalers: metered dose inhaler (MDI), and dry powder inhaler (DPI).


A nebuliser is a machine with tubing that takes liquid medicine and turns it into a mist that you inhale. Nebulisers are an option for anyone who has difficulty using an asthma inhaler.

What are the types of long term Asthma Medicine?

People with persistent symptoms must take long-term medication daily to control the underlying inflammation and prevent symptoms and exacerbations.There are two types of asthma medicines: long-term controllers and quick-relievers

Quick-relief medications are used to provide temporary relief of symptoms and, at times, used before exercise. These rescue medicines are bronchodilators, which help to open up the airways so that more air can flow through. Bronchodilators are primarily short-acting beta-agonists administered by an inhaler or a nebuliser machine. Another type of medicine called an anticholinergic may be used at times.

Long-term controller medications are important for many people with asthma, and are taken on a daily basis to control airway inflammation and treat symptoms in people who have frequent asthma symptoms. However, one medication may work better for you than another. Your allergist can help guide you.

Medication is not the only way to control asthma. It is also important to avoid asthma triggers – stimuli that irritate and inflame the airways. With medical support, each asthma patient must learn what triggers he or she should avoid.

Gabriel Ifinnwa with Agency Report


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