Adult Asthma (Adult-onset Asthma)

Asthma is a long-term lung condition, in which the airway lining swells or produces large amount of mucous. Apart from this the airway may also become narrow because of contraction of the muscles surrounding it. Patients usually experience recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. For most patients, the coughing occurs at night or early in the morning.

Most people think of asthma as a childhood disease, because it usually starts sometime during childhood. However, it has been observed that it affects people of all ages. When asthma is diagnosed in people older than 20 years of age, it is known as adult-onset asthma. In contrast to childhood asthma, adult asthma is more persistent and permanent. Often, constant medication is required to help keep it under control.

Causes

The real cause of asthma is uncertain, be it childhood or adult-onset asthma. It is not clear why the symptoms develop at a certain age or why they often disappear (especially in children). Irritants that bring on asthma symptoms are called “asthma triggers”. Asthma which develops at workplace (due to occupation of the person) is called “occupational asthma.” Adult asthma is usually aggravated by trigger factors similar to those in childhood asthma. Some of the triggers are:

Tobacco Smoke: Smoking causes quick and permanent damage to the lung. This applies to second-hand smoke also. Tobacco smoke makes asthma medication less effective, thereby making it harder to control. Apart from this, it increases the risk of a severe asthma attack.

Dust: Dust is an environmental irritant that annoys the nose, throat, and lungs. People with asthma must try their best to avoid dusty environment, and avoid occupations such as baking, woodwork, metal foundry work, mining, etc.

Allergens: There are several indoor allergens such as pets, feather bedding, mold on walls or dust, that induce asthmatic attacks. Constant efforts need to be made to keep the home and workplace free of asthma triggers.

Fumes and Strong Odors: It has been observed that fumes and strong smells provoke asthma in some cases. At home, use of spray cans of any kind should be minimized. One must try to stay away from spray paint fumes, and heating unit fumes including kerosene heaters.

Infections: Viruses including the flu, pneumonia, and the common cold are the most frequent triggers for this condition. Adults may even develop asthma after a severe attack of any of these viruses. Vaccination against these viruses is advised for people with chronic respiratory conditions, however, they do not protect against all the respiratory infections.

Medications: Certain medications aggravate asthma in some people. They include beta-blockers used to treat high blood pressure, angina or glaucoma, Aspirin, and pain relievers called ‘non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs’ (NSAIDs). It is also vital that a patient’s asthma medication does not interact with any other prescribed or non-prescribed medications.

Foods: Many adults are allergic to foods such as nuts or seafood. Some people are even sensitive to food additives, commonly – sulfites (220-228), which is used as preservatives in foods and drinks. These can aggravate the asthmatic conditions.

Some people are more prone to this condition, they include women experiencing hormonal changes, such as those who are pregnant or those who are experiencing menopause. Also, women who take estrogen following menopause for 10 years or longer are at a greater risk of developing adult-onset asthma. People who have just had certain viral infection or illness, such as a cold or flu, obese people, and people with allergies (especially to cats) also fall into this category.

Adult-onset asthma may be diagnosed by a lung function test using a device called a spirometer, to measure how much air you can exhale after first taking a deep breath. Another indicator is a methacholine challenge test. This asthma test may be performed if your symptoms and spirometry test do not clearly show asthma. When inhaled, methacholine causes the airways to spasm and narrow if asthma is present. An X-ray may also be suggested, but it does not always clearly indicate the condition.

If asthma is under-treated in adult life, it may lead to quick and irreversible deterioration of the lungs. While asthma can be controlled; it has no cure. In some adults, it is best to use regular medication in order to protect lung function, rather than risking permanent damage.

Besides the many preventive measures, there are different types of inhalers available for asthma. However, the right one should be chosen after consultation with a doctor.

Tips to Treat Asthma with Aromatherapy

Essential oils extracted from plants are primarily used in aromatherapy to treat a wide range of ailments, including asthma. Aromatherapy involves inhaling or massaging the essential oils to reap their therapeutic benefits. Use of essential oils for asthma has been backed by positive testimonials, which has led to their widespread acceptance in treating these respiratory problems. Essential oils assist in opening up the constricted airways in asthma, thereby, helping to breathe easier.

Aromatherapy for Asthma
Aromatherapy Chest Rub
Using aromatherapy chest rub can be effective in relieving symptoms of asthma. The essential oils in them display anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic activity that can help decrease episodes of asthma attack. Applying the chest rub during an asthma attack may actually help stop the respiratory distress within minutes. However, in most cases, rubs containing essential oils are used to prevent an asthma attack.

Chest rubs made from lavender and chamomile essential oils are effective to treat asthma. To make it, add 2 drops of chamomile oil to 8 drops of lavender oil. Now combine this mixture with 20 drops of carrier oil such as jojoba or sweet almond oil. Apply this blend two times in a day to keep asthma attacks at bay.

Lavender Oil
When catching breath in asthma seems difficult, steam inhalation with lavender oil may come to your rescue. Add 6–10 drops of lavender essential oil into a bowl of hot water. With the addition of lavender essential, inhaling the resulting steam has a high therapeutic value, and can provide immediate relief from asthma attacks.

Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil acts as a natural antihistamine which can also contribute to manage asthma effectively. Histamines are released into the body after exposure to an allergen, which often leads to an asthma attack. Antihistamines negate the actions of histamines, which help to control asthma symptoms, and makes us feel better. So, to ease breathing, inhaling steam with peppermint oil is recommended. Combine a drop of peppermint oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and then massage the mixture on the chest area, back, and even on the soles of the feet. Do this regularly, and you will surely notice improvement in your condition.

Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil has a long history of use as an anti-asthmatic and immune booster. Simply diffusing undiluted Frankincense essential oil and inhaling its aroma can be effective to improve the condition. Putting a few drops of frankincense essential oil on your handkerchief, and then inhaling it regularly can also help soothe your respiratory tract.

Other Essential Oils
Peppermint oil acts as a bronchodilator, meaning, it widens the air passages, thereby, allowing free flow of air into the lungs. It is soothing to the respiratory tract, and can alleviate breathing problems associated with asthma. Putting a few drops of peppermint oil in the nebulizer (containing distilled water) and then inhaling the mist can help clear the lungs. Other essential oils that can contribute in improving breathing in asthma are eucalyptus oil, marjoram oil, and ginger oil.

Aromatherapy Diffusers
Diffusers available in different types are devices that help to spread the fragrance of essential oils in a room. Asthma symptoms may improve when the fragrance diffused in the room is inhaled. For diffusing purposes, one can use lavender oil or blue tansy oil as they are known to make breathing easier in asthma patients.

Ideal Time to Use Aromatherapy
As far as usage of aromatherapy chest rub is concerned, the best time would be to apply it in the interval between two consecutive asthma attacks. Aromatherapy is more of a preventive measure, and is used to reduce incidences of asthma attacks. However, there is no harm if you feel better when applying chest rubs during an asthma attack. Also, you need to use aromatherapy in conjunction with your medical treatment, and not as a replacement for prescribed drugs. Regular use of aromatherapy can definitely reduce the dependency on prescription medicines.

Sniff Test
A sniff test is extremely important before you use essential oils for asthma. Many times, inhaling scented products aggravates symptoms of asthma. Asthmatics may suffer from a severe reaction, if they are overly sensitive to the scent. As most essential oils have a strong fragrance, sniff the one that you will be using to ensure that you are comfortable with its smell.

Tips to Stop an Asthma Attack

1679918_1437741475-copyAsthma is a breathing condition that a majority of people all around the world suffer from. Though we all like to believe that we’re well prepared to handle any kind of emergency, it’s always better to be acquainted with some things that we can do to stop an asthma attack, in case, God forbid, we’re in a state of emergency with no medical assistance available. This Buzzle article will give you a step-by-step instruction set on how to tackle an attack and bring the person back to a normal state.

Step #1: Calm Down
While this may seem very repetitive and practically impossible to do in the midst of an asthma attack, it is the first step that you need to take towards stopping an ongoing attack. Most often what happens is when a person feels the onset of an attack, he instantly panics. When he panics, it automatically increases the heart rate, which further contributes to the severity of the attack. So, when you’re in the thick of one, first calm down and then follow the other instructions given below.

Step #2: Distance the Trigger
Once you have calmed down, you will be able to think clearly. Now, slowly look around and identify what has triggered off the attack. You will be well aware of the triggers that you get affected by. It could be dust, pollen, pollution, food, allergens, a particular scent, smoking, or even excess physical movement. If it’s dust, pollen or such triggers, then immediately create a distance between yourself and the trigger. Go out of the room which contains the trigger and into an area that has ample supply of fresh air. If it’s due to exercise or any other physical movement that has caused the attack, then stop the movement and rest your body to bring down the blood rate.

Step #3: Breathing Exercises
Once you have settled down away from the trigger of your attack, you can indulge in some simple breathing exercises that will help your breathing get back to normal and in turn, make the attack subside. A couple of these exercises have been given below.

  • Sit down and hold your nose with your hand. Shut your mouth and hold your breath. Now, slowly shake your head in an up to down motion. Continue this until you feel suffocated. Then, slowly release your nose and slowly take in breath. If you cannot breathe through your nose, then let go of your nose, purse your lips and take in a little breath from the corner of the mouth. When you feel better, begin breathing slowly through your nose. Repeat this exercise after about a minute or two until your breathing reaches its regular pace.
  • This second exercise involves sniffing in and out. You need to sit in an upright position with your hands on your knees. Bend forward a little and inhale 4 short sniffs. After you’re done inhaling, you need to straighten up a bit and exhale one long breath. Then again bend a little and repeat the procedure twice before resting for about 10 seconds. Continue this exercise for about 10 minutes when you experience an attack, and you’ll feel better.

Step #4: Get Assistance
If any of the steps given above fail and you feel like your symptoms are getting aggravated even after using an inhaler, check your peak flow meter to see what your respiratory condition is. If it reads below the required reading, rush to your doctor immediately. Waiting for an asthma attack to subside on its own can only be stretched for some time. You are the best judge of its severity. So, don’t take any chances prolonging the period of discomfort.

The best way to stop an asthma attack is undoubtedly preventing one in the first place. So, stay away from all the possible triggers, take your medication regularly, keep your inhaler at hand and your emergency numbers with you all the time. Avoid too much physical and mental stress and live a healthy life.

Tips to Treat Asthma During Pregnancy

Asthma is a chronic disorder of the respiratory system where periodic inflammation occurs in the air passage and normal airflow into the body gets affected. It is triggered due to irritation of the lining of the air passage caused by allergens, irritants, infections, cold weather conditions, hormonal changes and so on. An asthma attack is identified with symptoms like breathing difficulty, wheezing, chest tightness, cough, etc. Asthma attacks during pregnancy is fairly common. Those women who have a medical history of asthma tend to get the attacks more frequently during pregnancy. On the other hand, some women develop asthma during pregnancy.

How to Treat Asthma During Pregnancy?
Many women try to avoid asthma treatment during pregnancy as they feel that medicines can cause harm to their unborn baby. It is true that taking asthma medicines may not be good for the baby but an uncontrolled asthma attack during pregnancy is even worse. It decreases the amount of oxygen supply to the mother and the fetus. This can lead to serious complications like high blood pressure in the pregnant mother, pre-eclampsia, low birth weight of the infant, premature baby birth, etc.

For treatment during pregnancy, you have to involve both your pulmonologist and the obstetrician. Do not stop taking medicines on your own when you come to know about your pregnancy. Rather, you must inform your obstetrician about the medicines that you are taking. When you inform your pulmonologist that you are pregnant, then he or she may change the dosage of the medicine or give you new medicines.

The most popular medicine used for treating asthma during pregnancy is steroid inhalers. It opens up the air passage and alleviates symptoms. It may be accompanied by oral steroid medicines or injections. The dosage of these medicines depends on the frequency of the asthma attack and severity of the symptoms. Do not worry as your doctor will select suitable medicines for you that have minimum side effects on you and your baby.

If asthma is triggered due to exposure to allergens, then doctors prescribe antihistamines for controlling the allergy symptoms. A nasal congestion due to upper respiratory tract infection is often treated with oral decongestants. Those who are prone to flu attack may be advised to take flu shots to prevent aggravation of the problem. Regular intake of medicines is not enough, you also have to visit your pulmonologist to monitor the lung function from time to time. Your obstetrician will also recommend frequent ultrasounds to check fetal growth.

Treating an Asthma Attack at Home
Along with the medicinal treatment, you have to take a few remedial measures at home to control asthma symptoms. A few helpful tips in this regard are as follows:

  • Strictly avoid tobacco smoke exposure. Those pregnant women who are smokers should quit the habit immediately. Smoking can lead to a severe asthma attack.
  • Make sure that your home and office environment where you spend maximum time is free from environmental irritants like dirt, dust, pollen, mold, etc.
  • Do not go outdoors in cold weather conditions. If you have to go, make sure you cover up your mouth and nose properly with a scarf.
  • Mix some rock salt with mustard oil to prepare a thick paste. Massage this paste gently on your chest daily. This reduces the chances of an asthma attack to a great extent.
  • Garlic can provide relief from asthma. Boil 8-10 garlic cloves in a glass of milk for 10 minutes. Let it cool down and then drink it. It should be taken daily for best results.

The main aim of this treatment is to keep the mother and the baby healthy. If you are one of those women who have pre-existing asthma problems, there is no need to assume that you are going to have a tough time during pregnancy. You can manage asthma with proper medical care, regular monitoring of the condition and some suitable precautionary measures. Take care!