Definition of asthma
Test for asthma
Discovery of asthma
Hippocrates of Cos, the famous ancient Greek
physician. He is also generally known as Hippocrates.
In the history of medicine, he is considered as one of
the most significant contributors to the field of
medicine. He is also widely known as the “Father of
Medicine”. He is credited to be the first person who
believed diseases are not caused by Gods or any
other superpower but are a result of natural causes.
Asthma can develop at any age but usually begins
during the first few years of life.
Asthma varies from one person to another and
can change over time.
Some people experience more severe symptoms
more often than others.
There are three levels of asthma: mild, moderate
and severe, but anyone can experience a severe
Treatment can vary from person to person.
Causes of asthma:
Airway and chest infections – Upper respiratory infections, which
affect the upper airways, are often caused by cold and flu viruses
and are a common trigger of asthma.
Allergens – Pollen, dust mites, animal fur or feathers, for example,
can trigger asthma.
Airborne irritants – Cigarette smoke, chemical fumes and
atmospheric pollution may trigger asthma.
Medicines – The class of painkillers called non-steroidal anti-
inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen, can
trigger asthma for some people, although are fine for most. Children
under 16 years of age should not be given aspirin.
Emotional factors – Asthma can be triggered by emotional factors, such as stress
Foods containing sulphites – Sulphites are naturally occurring
substances found in some food and drink. They are also sometimes
used as a food preservative. Food and drinks high in sulphites include
concentrated fruit juice, jam, prawns and many processed or pre-
cooked meals. Most people with asthma do not have this trigger, but
some may. Certain wines can also trigger asthma in susceptible people.
Weather conditions – A sudden change in temperature, cold air, windy
days, poor air quality and hot, humid days are all known triggers for
Indoor conditions – Mould or damp, house dust mites and chemicals in
carpets and flooring materials may trigger asthma.
Exercise – Sometimes, people with asthma find their symptoms are
worse when they exercise.
Food allergies – Although uncommon, some people may have allergies
to nuts or other food items, known as an anaphylactic reaction. If so,
these can trigger severe asthma attacks.
What happens during an asthma attack?
the bands of muscles around the airways tighten
there is increased inflammation in the linings of the airways, which
the airways produce sticky mucus or phlegm, which can cause
them to narrow further
The passages of the airways narrow, making it more difficult for the
air to pass through and therefore more difficult to breathe. This
can cause the characteristic wheezy noise, although not everyone
with asthma will wheeze. In a life-threatening attack, there may
not be a wheezy sound.
An asthma attack can happen at any time. However there are
usually warning signs for a couple of days before. These include
symptoms getting worse, especially during the night, and needing
to use the reliever inhaler more and more.
When to seek emergency
Seek medical attention right away if you have signs or
symptoms of a serious asthma attack, which include:
Severe breathlessness or wheezing, especially at night or in
the early morning
The inability to speak more than short phrases due to
shortness of breath
Having to strain your chest muscles to breathe
Low peak flow readings when you use a peak flow meter
Your doctor will likely ask:
What are your exact symptoms? When do they occur, and does anything specific
seem to trigger them?
Are you often exposed to tobacco smoke, chemical fumes, dust or other airborne
Do you have hay fever or another allergic condition?
Do you have any blood relatives with asthma, hay fever, or other allergies?
What health problems do you have?
What medications or herbal supplements do you take? (Many medications can
What is your occupation?
Do you have pet birds or raise pigeons? (In some people, exposure to birds can
cause asthma-like symptoms.)
Your doctor may:
Examine your nose, throat and upper airways
(upper respiratory tract).
Use a stethoscope to listen to your breathing.
Wheezing — high-pitched whistling sounds when
you breathe out — is one of the main signs of
Examine your skin for signs of allergic conditions
such as eczema and hives.
Test for asthma
Lung Function Tests
Spirometry is a simple breathing test that
measures how much and how fast you can
blow air out of your lungs. It is often used to
determine the amount of airway obstruction
Your doctor may perform an X-ray exam on you
in order to see the structures inside your chest,
including the heart, lungs, and bones. By viewing
your lungs, your doctor can see if asthma is likely
to be causing your symptoms.
Advise to you-check up
Skin Prick test: pricking the skin with a needle or pin
containing a small amount of the allergen.
Skin Scratch test: a deep dermic scratch is performed
with help of the blunt botton of a lancet.