Types, causes, treatment, and diagnosis of asthma
The most common cause of chronic cough in children is asthma. Your pediatrician will ask about your symptoms, including whether coughing occurs during exercise or while sleeping. He or she will examine you and take your temperature. A physical examination will include looking at your lungs and throat. Your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs, and check your reflexes.
Your doctor may do one or more of the following tests:
• Spirometry – measuring how much air you exhale over a certain period of time. This test measures lung capacity and helps determine whether you have asthma.
• Blood tests – to look for signs of inflammation in your body.
• Chest x-ray – to see if there are abnormalities in your lungs.
• Sinus X-ray – to look inside your nose and sinuses.
If your doctor thinks you might have asthma, he or she may refer you to a specialist for further testing and treatment. Asthma treatment includes medications, inhalers, and possibly surgery.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Asthma?
The goal of a physician exam is to gather information about your health, including your personal and medical history. A good doctor will ask questions to find out what might be causing your symptoms. They’ll want to know about your family history of health problems like asthma, allergic reactions, and heart disease. You’ll likely be asked questions about your medications, diet, exercise habits, and sleep patterns.
Your doctor will look for signs of breathing problems, such as wheezing or shortness of breath. He or she will examine your nose, throat, eyes, ears, skin, and chest.
Will My Doctor Test for Conditions Other Than Asthma?
If your doctor thinks you have asthma, he or she may run other tests. They may do a physical exam, ask about your medical history, check your breathing, look for signs of infection, and even take some blood samples.
Your doctor may also perform allergy testing. This involves taking a sample of your blood or skin cells and seeing how well it reacts to certain substances. An allergy test isn’t done to see if you actually have asthma; it’s done because allergies can trigger asthma attacks.
Allergies may be one of several things causing your symptoms. You may have another lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, bronchitis, or pneumonia. Or, you could have heartburn or GERD, which causes stomach acids to flow up into your esophagus, making it difficult to breathe.
You may have a nasal problem called rhinitis, which makes it hard to breathe through your nose. You may also have an ear infection, sinus problems, or mouth sores caused by strep throat.
There are many other possible underlying causes of your symptoms. So, don’t feel like you have to stick with just asthma or related conditions. Talk to your doctor about what else could be wrong. He or she may recommend additional tests.
What Are the Different Types of Asthma?
There are four different types of asthma, depending on how severe it is. Mild asthma doesn’t require treatment; moderate asthma requires daily medication; mild persistent asthma requires twice-daily medications; and moderate persistent asthma requires three times-a-day treatments. “Asthma isn’t just one thing,” says Dr. William Egan, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Boston Children’s Hospital. “The disease varies tremendously.”
Type 2 (Allergic) Inflammation
Inflammatory diseases are caused by the body’s immune system overreacting to something foreign—a virus, bacteria or another substance. In most cases, the immune system sends out chemicals that attack the invader and kill it. But sometimes the immune system produces too many chemicals, causing damage to healthy tissue.
In asthma, the immune system releases too much of a chemical called interleukin 4 (IL4). IL4 causes the body to produce large amounts of immunoglobin E (IgE), which binds to receptors on mast cells. Mast cells release histamine and leukotrienes, which cause irritation and swelling in the lining of the bronchial tubes. As a result, people with asthma experience wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Asthma affects about 300 million people worldwide. It occurs in both children and adults, although it tends to strike younger people. Asthma symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, sneezing, sinus problems and nosebleeds.
People often think of allergies as being triggered by pollen, dust mites, mold spores or food allergens. However, there are different kinds of allergies. Some involve the skin, others affect the respiratory tract. Allergies occur because the immune system mistakenly attacks harmless substances as harmful invaders. For example, someone might develop an allergy to latex rubber gloves, even though he never encountered them before. He becomes sensitive to them and develops hives whenever he wears them.
The good news is that most people do not suffer from chronic allergies. Most people can avoid developing allergies by avoiding exposure to things they are allergic to. If you know you are allergic to something, however, you must take precautions to protect yourself from further exposures.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Asthma in Children?
Diagnosing asthma in children under 5 requires a careful process of history-taking, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. This article explains how doctors diagnose asthma in children this age.
What is an asthma attack?
When you breathe normally, muscles surrounding your airways relax, allowing air to move easily and silently. But during an asthma attack, three different things can happen:
Bronchospasm:Your airway muscles constrict, making your airways narrower. This causes your lungs to fill up with mucus, making breathing difficult. Your heart beats faster and harder. You may feel shortness of breath.
Inflammation:Your airway linings swell up like balloons. They become inflamed and thickened. As a result, they don’t open wide enough to let air pass. Instead, you’re left feeling tightness in your chest and throat.
Airflow obstruction:You can still breathe, but airflow isn’t smooth and easy. You might experience wheezing, coughing, or choking.
Who can get asthma?
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children today. In fact, it is the leading cause of school absence among kids under 18. While anyone can get asthma, there are certain factors that increase the risk of developing it. These include being born into a family with a history of asthma; having a parent or sibling with asthma; exposure to cigarette smoke while pregnant; living in a home with pets or carpets; and eating too much fast food.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 24 million Americans suffer from asthma, including 4 million children. Of those people, 2 million are diagnosed with severe asthma.
Symptoms and Causes
Asthma affects about 300 million people worldwide, according to Asthma UK. Most cases are mild, but it can cause serious problems for those whose symptoms worsen over time. Although there are many theories about what causes asthma, researchers still don’t fully understand the disease. A few common triggers include environmental exposures such as dust mites, pollen and cigarette smoke, and allergic reactions like food allergies, eczema and hay fever.
What are common asthma attack triggers?
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects about 25 million Americans. An asthma attack occurs when the airways become inflamed, causing narrowing of the airway passages. This inflammation causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Asthma attacks usually happen suddenly and vary in intensity. Some people experience one attack per day while others go months without having an attack.
For many people, asthma symptoms are triggered by allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, mold spores, pollen, smoke, cold air, exercise, stress, weather changes, certain foods, medications, and viral infections. These triggers cause the body’s immune system to overreact and release chemicals called inflammatory mediators into the lungs.
Triggers can be different depending on the individual. Common triggers include:
• Allergens – Dust mites, pet danders, cockroaches, mould spores, pollen, smoke
• Cold air
What are the signs and symptoms of asthma?
People with asthma often experience coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and trouble breathing. They can also develop nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and runny nose. Some people with asthma may also have fatigue, mood swings, or even headaches. Symptoms vary among individuals, and some people don’t always experience all of these symptoms during an attack.
With asthma, you may not always see all of these symptoms with each episode. For example, you might notice one symptom while another occurs later. Or you might notice one sign while another appears later. This is because asthma isn’t just about having symptoms; it’s about having certain signs and symptoms.
Some people with asthma may have different symptoms at different times. And some people may have different symptoms during an attack versus between attacks.