What is asthma; symptoms, triggers, prevention and treatments

Know and promptly report signs and symptoms of your asthma and easier comes the medical intervention. Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction and bronchospasm. It is mostly caused by a combination of genetic and environmental modulators which influence both its severity and responsiveness to treatment.
Asthma is one of the diseases of public health concern, causing chronic but reversible obstruction and inflammation of the lungs. It is a common cause of sudden mortality and morbidity among different ages, races and genders if not detected early and treated. The numbers of people who are becoming victims of this dreadful disease are increasing at alarming rate.


Asthma can be defined as a complex, preventable and treatable disease associated with interaction between many respiratory cells and inflammatory mediators, causing chronic inflammation of the airways which subsequently results in increased contractility and obstructive disorders in the surrounding smooth muscles of bronchi in the lungs. It causes severe reversible and variable airflow limitation that can often resolve either spontaneously or with treatment. However, if left untreated, the chronic inflammation from asthma can cause the lungs to become irreversibly obstructed due to airway remodeling. Some individuals will have stable asthma for weeks or months and suddenly develop an episode of acute asthma.


Symptoms and signs of asthma manifest more or are usually worse at night and in the early morning or in response to exercise or cold air/weather. Some people with asthma rarely experience symptoms and signs in response to triggers, whereas others may have marked and persistent symptoms and signs which includes hacking night cough (more mucus is produced in the airways, undermining the flow of air), shortness of breath after exercise (many asthmatics hardly catch their breath or they feel out of breath or cannot get air out of their lungs) and chronic throat-cleaning type of cough (often occurs at night, making it difficult to sleep or early in the morning). Other common signs and symptoms are chest tightness (feeling that something is squeezing or sitting on your chest), recurrent episodes of wheezing (a hissing or whistling sound when you breathe) and sputum (often hard to bring up) produced from the lung by intermittent coughing.


Allergens and irritants such as pollens from trees, grasses and flowers; house dust from rugs and home décor products; sprays such as body and hair sprays; animal dander (especially cat and dog hair), mold and cockroaches should be avoided. Also industrial and home irritants such as strong odours, chemicals, fumes from generators and cars; smoke from burning and bleaching of palm oil should be avoided.

People should avoid sulfites in foods and drinks; and occupational exposures to chemical irritants in flour, wood and textile dusts. It is important to avoid viral respiratory tract infection, perfumes which can cause acute attacks in women and children, emotions like anxiety, stress and hard laughter or crying which can alter the immune system and increase the airway inflammatory response to allergens and irritants.

Low air quality from traffic pollutions, Phthalates in Polyvinylchloride which are associated with asthma in children and adults, environmental exposures to weather changes, cold air and sulfur dioxide, cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke (passive smoke) that may reduce the effectiveness of medications such as corticosteroids should be avoided. The use of drugs like aspirin, bethanecol, tartrazine, propranolol, antibiotics in early life and some preservatives, especially without expert medical advice should be avoided.

Eczema, hay fever, strenuous physical activity, including exercise that is not carefully planned and obesity (overweight) that can build-up fat in the adipose tissue, leading to pro-inflammatory asthma state should be avoided.


The workers associated with the highest risk of asthma attacks and deaths include: paints sprayers, bakers and food processors, nurses, workers in chemical industries, chemical users, those exposed to animals, welders, hairdressers and timber workers. Many deaths and economic burdens attributable to asthma are due to inadequate equipment and poor assessment of the severity of airflow obstruction by health care providers and patients.

The prevalence of asthma has increased significantly since the 1970s. As at 2019, an estimated 237–382 million people were affected globally and approximately 460,000 people die annually from the disease. Severe asthma occurs more in adult women than men and it is more common in the young than the old. Asthma starts early in life with worst episodes at night and early morning. The good news is that; it can be outgrown.


The treatment goals of asthma presently are aimed at relieving and reducing the impart of symptoms immediately and preventing risk of future adverse health events like exacerbation, crisis and death. While there is no cure for asthma that is not out-grown, symptoms can typically be managed. Even when you feel fine after medication, you still have the disease and it can flare up at any moment.

A specific, customized plan for proactive management and monitoring of asthma symptoms should be created to fit a patient’s asthma presentation. This plan should include the reduction of exposure to irritants and allergens, testing to assess the severity of symptoms and the usage of prescribed medications. The treatment plan and advice adjustments should be written down in response to changes in symptoms. This is why this article is a necessary public document. It highlights the fact that the most effective aspects in treatment of asthma are identifying the common asthmatic symptoms and triggers that require prompt reporting to experts for individualized medical evaluation for the achievement of the needed improvement in the control and prevention of attacks.


If you are asthmatic, take active role in managing the disease by building sustained strong partnerships with your doctor and other health care providers for successful, thorough and ongoing treatment, control and monitoring. People should pay adequate attention to cleanliness and family size; and perform spirometry every one or two years to follow-up their asthma control. Daily self-monitoring of moderate to severe asthma attacks should be used to ensure prompt checking of the effectiveness of new medications and to guide treatment in those with acute exacerbation.

Removal from the house, pets that cause asthmatic allergy is crucial in reducing asthma incidences. Engage in carefully planned exercise that will not adversely affect the control of your asthma while exercising. If you are asthmatic, pay good attention to your treatment plan and use the recommended drugs to enable you manage your asthma appropriately. Also if you suffer from asthma, see your doctor to tell you what triggers your asthma symptoms and signs, and how to timely avoid them. Keep track of your asthma symptoms and level of control. Asthmatics should get regular checkups, follow their asthma control plans and know when to seek emergency medical care.

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