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Asthma Part 1: An Overview

Welcome to this first part of a four-part series on asthma, where we aim to understand what it is and how it can be managed.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways in the lungs. Recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing are all hallmarks of asthma.

Asthma affects people of all ages, but most often starts during childhood.

Overview

Asthmatics have inflamed airways in their lungs. Inflamed airways are narrowed and very sensitive, thereby reacting very stronglt to inhaled allergens.

When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten, narrowing the airways causing reduced airflow into the lungs. The swelling can and will progress, farther narrowing the airways. Associated with this process is the increased production of mucus, a thick, sticky fluid that farther narrows the already narrowed airways.

These reactions result in the symptoms of asthma – Wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.

Asthmatic symptoms are often mild and spontaneously resolve or are easily treated with minimal treatment. However, in some cases, it can progress and become worse, resulting in what is commonly known as an asthmatic attack.

Hence, treating symptoms of asthma early is paramount. By the time an asthmatic attack ensues, emergency care is required and if left untreated, asthma can be fatal.

There is no cure for asthma. However, with proper and thorough ongoing treatment, asthma can be managed and sufferers of asthma can and will continue to lead normal and active lives.

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