Asthma Basics: Things You Should Know

What is asthma?

Asthma is a disease of the airways that makes breathing difficult. With asthma, there is inflammation of the air passages that result in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs leading to asthma symptoms.

Who is prone to asthma?

Childhood asthma is more common in boys than in girls. Around age 20, the ratio of asthma between men and women is the same. At age 40, more females than males have adult asthma. Other risk factors include family history, history of allergies, smoking and obesity.

What are the common symptoms of asthma?

The common symptoms are shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, wheezing, a dry, irritating and continual cough (especially at night/early in the morning, or with exercise or activity).

What are the most common triggers for an asthmatic attack?

Common triggers include: Dust, flowers, pets, smoke, cigarette smoking, vigorous exercise, anti-inflammatory drugs, extreme weather conditions, extreme emotions such as anxiety, anger and fear.

What precautions should patients take?

Asthmatic patients mainly have difficulty in breathing, which can get aggravated if they contract respiratory infections. So, they need to avoid the trigger factors, which can be different for different patients.

How is asthma diagnosed?

There is no single test for asthma. Diagnosis is made on the basis of medical history, family history, history of allergies, possible triggers, and lung function tests (like spirometry and peak flow monitoring)

What are the treatment options?

Treatment involves a combined approach of

  • Preventive long term asthma control medications: to keep asthma under control on a day-to-day basis and minimize the chances of an asthma attack. These include steroids, beta agonists, theophylline and leukotriene modifiers.
  • Quick relief medications:  for rapid, short-term symptom relief during an asthma attack.








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