Doctors are often asked: is asthma a disease? Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory system that may occasionally cause a decrease in airflow to and from the lungs. Asthma mainly affects young people and kids, often has a significant allergic background while there is a genetic predisposition. Underlying inflammation and bronchospasm are the main features of the disease, while dyspnoea and wheezing are the main symptoms.
There are some steps that your doctor will follow to discover if you suffer from asthma:
- Get a history of typical symptoms such as dyspnoea, wheezing, nocturnal alarms but also family history, medication history and exposure to aggravating factors.
- Spirometry. The patient blows into a tube connected to the spirometer and thus measures the volume and flow of air from the patient’s lungs.
- Flowmeter. It measures the maximum speed at which a patient can breathe out of their lungs.
Is asthma a disease, how common is it and is there a treatment?
While many people are wondering “is asthma a disease?”, about 300 million people suffer from asthma on the planet and about 250.000 people die from asthma every year. Asthma deaths, however, are steadily decreasing due to effective treatment. On the contrary, the frequency of asthma and allergies is increasing. Asthma is more common in boys in childhood and in women after adulthood.
Asthma is chronic disease with remissions and exacerbations that requires as much control as possible to avoid unpleasant effects on the patient and improve their quality of life. The global medical community has focused on exactly that: achieving control of the disease and maintaining it for long periods. Deregulation of the disease can be minor, but sometimes more severe, leading to the patient being hospitalized in bad condition. In some cases, hospital admission may also be needed.
The need to use relief medication indicates that asthma is controlled. If there is a need to take the relief medication more than twice a week, it means that the patient is not adequately controlled and therefore a review by the physician before treatment is required.
In recent years, the discovery of new drugs, such as long-acting inhaled steroids and bronchodilators, has helped greatly to reduce the number of patients who end up in the hospital with asthma.
What should Ι do next?
Now that we know the answer to question is asthma a disease, we can see what we can do about it. Do you have any indications that make you believe you may have asthma?
Make your plan and treat it as soon as possible. An early diagnosis can really save you from unpleasant symptoms.
- Step one: Do not worry. Diagnosis of asthma saddens and scares many people when they are not well informed as they think they will suffer throughout their lives. The asthmatic patient is practically quite good with proper treatment.
- Step two: Look for a pulmonologist who specializes in the treatment of asthma and arrange an appointment.
- Step three: Avoid the risk factors that may lead to the deterioration of the disease, like places with lots of dust, food with allergens, cigarette smoke.
- Step four: Receive appropriate maintenance treatment, as directed by your physician.
- Step five: Be in frequent contact with your doctor. This constant cooperation and faithful adherence to the guidelines and medication turns the problem into a controlled situation.
P.S. If you are asking yourself is asthma a disease, don’t forget that there are several medications. These treatments are intended to control the inflammation of the airways (maintenance), but also to suppress symptoms when they occur (relief).