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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects the smaller airways of the lungs. From time to time the airways constrict in people who have asthma and the extend of narrowing and time persist can vary greatly.

2. Who does it affect?

Asthma can start at any age.But most common in children. Asthma runs in some families.

3. What causes asthma?

Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways. The inflammation or swellings of the airways make it very sensitive to a variety of factor. Environmental factors like tobacco smoke, dust mites, viral respiratory infections, domestic air pollution by mosquito coils, fire wood smoke from the josh sticks, cockroaches mould on the walls, humidity, are lead to increase asthma. Psychological stress and early introducing of antibiotics also lead to increase asthma.

Pollens , fumes, and chemicals may trigger asthma symptoms. Pet birds love birds, pigeons can worse asthma.

Some foods also trigger asthma.

Exercise induced asthma often represents under treated asthma.

4. What are the symptoms?

Mild asthma - Irritating cough during night, but asymptomatic during daytime, wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, in the large majority of patients symptoms episodic and normal days in-between. Patients are able to identify aggravating factors as well as factors that reduce symptoms. Patients also have associated allergies runny nose, “hay fever”.

Moderate asthma - episodes of wheezing and coughing, symptoms are often worse at early morning and during night, brethlessness,chest tightness symptoms interfere with the activities of daily living and school work.

Sever asthma - wheezing, “tight” chest, extreme difficulty of breathing, nostrils flare when the patient breathe, difficult to talk, finger nails or lips turn gray or blue, neck ,chest or ribs are pulled in with each breathe.

Even those with mild asthma can have life threatening acute attacks, therefore it is important for patients for patients to know when asthma is poorly controlled.

5. How is asthma diagnosed?

By typical symptoms or can be diagnose easily by a doctor.

Confirmation can be made by a peak flow meter, Spirometry.

6. What are the treatments for asthma?

Inhalers

  1. A reliever inhaler - is taken as required to ease symptoms. These drugs widen the airways eg. Salbutamol, terbutaline
  2. A preventer inhaler - is taken everyday to prevent symptoms from developing. these are steroids. It takes 7-14 days to build up its effect. It can take up to six weeks for maximum benefit. If you use it everyday you can prevent symptoms from coming back.
  3. A long acting bronchodilator inhalers - If symptoms are not fully controlled by the preventer inhaler alone in addition this can be used. Eg. Salmeterol, formoterol.

Spacer devices are used with inhalers in some instances like adults and old age as their co ordination is poor. Face mask can be fitted onto some types of spacers instead of mouthpiece.

Usually inhalers are combined with corticosteroids.

Tablets

is prescribed in addition to inhalers if symptoms are not fully eased by inhalers alone. For children syrups available instead of tablets.

Steroid tablets

A short course of steroid tablets (prednisolone) is some times needed a sever or prolong attack of asthma. Steroid tablets are good at reducing the inflammation in the airways.

Some people worry about taking steroid tablets. However a short course of steroid tablets usually works very well and is unlikely to cause side effects. Most of the side effects caused by steroids occur if take them for a long time, or if you take frequent short courses of high doses.

7. What is typical treatment plan?

In time you may agree an “asthma action plan” with your doctor. This means that you make adjustments of the medication depending on your signs and symptoms.

When asthma control is good and stable for three months “stepping down treatment” is applied. Then dosage and frequency of inhaled steroids can be reduced. This must only be done on advice from your doctor. Inhaled medication should be continued at least for two years even after controlled of symptoms is achieved. This is because asthmatic airways remain sensitive even in the absence of symptoms for a further period of time.

8. Does asthma go away?

There is no once and for all cure. However about half of the children who develop asthma go out of it by the time the y grew. Although not curable, asthma is treatable.

Asthma associated conditions

  1. Allergic rhinitis- sneezing, itching eyes, runny nose suggest allergic rhinitis. Majority of asthmatics have allergic rhinitis. This needs to be treated separately.
  2. Eczema- itchy rash of the skin with or without discharge.
9. How do you prevent asthma?

Asthma can be prevented by trigger avoidance. Avoid both active and passive smoking helps to the patient and the members who are having asthma in his family.

How ever, one trigger you should not avoid is physical activity. Physical activity is an important part of healthy life style. Talk with your doctor about your medicine that can help you stay active.

Use medicines as doctor prescribed.

Learn about your asthma and how to control it.

Get regular checkups for your asthma symptoms and level of control.

10. What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. This can be transmitted by many animals such as rats, rodents, dogs, pigs. People get the disease by either ingesting food or water or by broken skin or mucous membrane contact with infected soil or water witch are contaminated with the urine of infected animal.

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