Asthma is a chronic illness that causes inflammation of the lungs. When a person experiences an asthma attack, the muscles surrounding the airways begin to contract. The result is that a person is unable to breathe and may suffer from wheezing. He or she may have a serious cough or have a shortness of breath. The Mayo Clinic also reports that asthma is also caused when the membranes in the lungs secrete an additional layer of mucus. An individual is unable to inhale and exhale oxygen through the additional layer of mucus.
Diagnosis of Asthma
In the typical case of asthma, an individual will develop the condition during childhood. It is possible for an individual to be diagnosed with asthma as an adult. Those who have not yet been diagnosed with asthma typically have a past medical history of severe colds and coughs.
Individuals should pay attention to whether they suffer the conditions of asthma to assist in the diagnosis process. If a person recognizes that he or she suffers from shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing or tightened throat muscles, he or she should make an appointment with a doctor for a potential asthma diagnosis. One's doctor will then proceed to ask a series of questions that are designed to determine whether the person has asthma. These questions may request information on one's family history of allergies and asthma or whether one has suffered from signs of chest pain or heart disease. The doctor may also administer a lung test to determine the strength with which a person can blow air in and out of his or her lungs. Children are unable to participate in this lung test, so doctors will need to ascertain whether they have asthma based on questions.
Living with Asthma
Those who have been diagnosed with asthma can find certain ways to live with the illness and decrease its discomfort. The Mayo Clinic reports that those with asthma should be aware of asthma triggers and seek to eliminate them. Individuals should use the air conditioner in their home to reduce exposure to pollen, dust, pollutants and humidity.
Individuals with asthma should also make an extra effort to eliminate dust in the home. They may wish to remove carpeting and furniture that can easily attract dust. They may also want to use curtains and linens that can easily be washed. Frequently cleaning pillows and linens will help to reduce the amount of dust in the home. If you find that cleaning triggers your asthma attacks, you may want to wear a mask or hire someone else to clean your home.
Homeowners should also clean a home regularly to reduce the amount of pet residue and mold in the home. Pets can attract residue and tiny insects that can be harmful to those with asthma.
During the winter months, asthma patients should be sure to wear a covering over their face. The cold air can provoke an asthma attack due to its dryness. An individual may find it easier to breathe in the winter months with a face warmer.