Touching over 3 million people in France, asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases. If it is sometimes silent, it is important to detect asthma as soon as possible to avoid complications. But what are its symptoms and how to treat it? Explanations. Definition: Asthma, what is it? FacebookTwitterPinterest Share on Facebook Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract, including bronchi and bronchioles. It is a disease that arises in seizures that can be occasional and that are usually separated by periods of normal breathing. During a crisis, the bronchi inflate, the muscles surrounding its walls contract, preventing the air to circulate to the lungs. Asthma causes breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, breathing or tightness in the chest. Causes: What Causes Asthma? The causes of asthma remain relatively unclear to date, but research has identified genetic and environmental factors that may play a role. Certain factors such as smoking are considered predisposing to asthma. An asthma attack is characterized by the production of a thick mucus that will accumulate in the bronchi and impede breathing. At the same time, the muscles surrounding the bronchi contract and compress the bronchi (bronchospasm), reinforcing the respiratory gene. Asthma is often associated with respiratory allergies, but it is not systematically allergic in origin. Asthmatics have a high sensitivity of the bronchi to one or more substances. These substances are factors that may trigger or aggravate an asthma attack, but are not the cause of asthma. It could be : – airborne allergens (dust, hairs, mites, pollen) – tobacco smoke – air pollutants (irritants, wood smoke, pollution) – foods causing food allergies, or food additives – certain medicinal products – infections of the respiratory tract that cause inflammation (colds, sinusitis, bronchitis, etc.) – exercise, especially in winter – strong emotions especially in children Symptoms: How to recognize asthma? In general, symptoms of asthma may be persistent or intermittent. They are especially marked at night and in the morning. They include difficulty breathing, characteristic wheezing, chest tightness, and dry cough. In some people, asthma manifests itself only in the form of a “short breath” which worsens over time without causing other manifestations. They often do not realize that they are asthmatic. It is only at the age of 50 or 60 that the symptoms worsen suddenly, sometimes tragically. When the crisis worsens, the preceding symptoms may intensify, and the following may appear: – sweating – increased heart rate – difficulty speaking or coughing – anxiety, confusion and restlessness, especially in children – a bluish coloring of the fingers and lips – disorders of consciousness Following the onset of these symptoms, it is imperative to call for help or to go to the emergency room to control the crisis as soon as possible. Treatments: how to treat asthma? There is no cure for definitively curing asthma. Because it is a chronic disease, it may require regular treatment, even between seizures. Medications are generally administered via the respiratory tract with inhalers, allowing rapid action, avoiding adverse effects. Among these drugs, there are two categories, treatment control, or background, and crisis or relief medications. It is important to make a difference in order to respect the dosage of treatments previously indicated by the doctor. – Background therapy should be taken every day, even when the patient is not experiencing respiratory discomfort, in case of moderate and persistent asthma. These medications (corticosteroids) reduce the inflammation of the bronchi and reduce the frequency of seizures. If their dosage is not respected, the frequency and severity of the seizures increase, and the need for crisis treatment. – Crisis treatment , or relief, should be taken when the symptoms appear, they are also referred to by other terms as rapid-acting bronchodilators. They have an immediate relief action which consists of dilating the bronchi to facilitate breathing, but they do not allow to calm the inflammation. In the case of mild and intermittent asthma, crisis treatment may be the only medication necessary. In general, all people with asthma should always have an inhaler on them as a precaution. To prevent seizures, it is also advisable to limit exposure to factors that may trigger them such as mold, animals, etc.