Sunday, March 7, 2010

What is asthma anyway?

I have seen a lot of kids with bad asthma recently. I think that some parents really don't understand how to manage their child's asthma at home. Since this is a big topic, I'm going to try to address it thoroughly.

The first thing to understand is what asthma actually is. It is an inflammation of the airway. The inflammation is reversible and can be triggered by certain things. Different people can have different triggers. Common triggers are pets, dust, stress, cigarette smoke, or illness.

Over time the inflammation in the airway can cause "airway remodeling". This is when the airway starts to get thicker and filled with mucus. Once airway remodelling begins, it can lead to permanent changes in the airway.

Treatment of asthma focuses on the specific goals of individualized care, avoidance of triggers, management of symptoms and prevention of attacks.
Signs and symptoms of asthma include wheezing, chest tightness, recurrent coughing and shortness of breath. These symptoms can happen when someone has a viral illness and then never happen again. This does not mean that they have asthma, it means they had wheezing from a viral illness. When these symptoms happen over and over again and seem to be caused by triggers other than illness a diagnosis of asthma should be considered.

Tomorrow- medications to treat asthma.

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