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As a medical condition, asthma is known from the early human history. In ancient Egypt, it was treated by heating some medicinal herbs and inhaling their fumes. In China, herbs with ephedrine were inhaled to treat attacks.
Asthma affects lungs and its airways. Some patients experience recurrent episodes of wheezing cough during nighttime or early morning as well as chest tightness. Unlike other lung diseases, asthma is reversible. It is characterized by the narrowing of airways. This obstruction is caused by inflammation that may be triggered by irritants either from within the body or from the environment.
Asthma can be caused by a variety of factors
External stimuli are various and may include animal hair, pollen, changes in humidity and weather, and smoking.
Medication such as Aspirin, beta-blockers, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are also contributing factors. One large-scale recent study that involved over 500,000 children even found that incidence may be due to the household exposure to asthma irritants such as cooking oil used in the open fire kitchens.
Susceptibility to asthma attacks may be caused not only by environmental factors, but by genetic predisposition as well. Individuals who have innate defect on the mucosal lining of the airways are found to be prone to developing asthma.
Individuals with asthma complain of mild wheezing cough. When the airways swell up, its surroundings tightens making hard for air to pass. This means that air can’t freely move in and out of the lungs since mucus obstructs the airways making breathing difficult. When left untreated, asthma may lead to more serious respiratory failures.
A range of treatments is currently available to manage asthma attacks
While we still have no definite cure for asthma, medications can help in managing the symptoms of this condition.
Some long-term medicines, such as steroids and long-acting beta-agonists, are breathed in. A number of other drugs is taken orally. The latter drugs aim to lessen the number of attacks and reduce their severity. Inhalable corticosteroids are still considered the mainstay treatment and used to treat mild to moderate asthma.