Although not a life threatening condition, without proper management asthma can severly hinder a person’s quality of life. Managing asthma symptoms can be tricky because of a number of factors including the environment, aging, and because asthma symptoms tend to be sporadic and occur at any time. Creating daily methods to manage triggers and health can increase the number of days without asthma symptoms.

Asthma Symptoms

One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8% of the U.S. population) had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 (about 20 million, or 7%) in 2001. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of asthma. What you might think is just being out of breath, could actually be a warning sign for asthma.

  • Coughing
  • Weezing
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid Heartbeat

The biggest thing to look out for is if these symptoms persist past a few days. Sometimes we just get a chest cold that lasts a few days, but if these symptoms persist or become more severe, it might be time to see a doctor.

Asthma Causes

Asthma is a chronic disease and it can be caused by a variety of factors including genetic history, viral infections, and environmental factors. However, no one really knows why some people are affected by asthma and others are not. Although we do not exactly know what causes asthma, we know the causes of some of the main symptoms.


This inflammation makes the air passages particularly sensitive to irritants and asthma triggers. This inflammation narrows the passageways and makes it harder for you to breathe.

Airway Construction

Some people just have more narrow passageways when it comes to breathing. Those born with a narrower passageway will have harder time breathing. Mucus can also build up within the throat, making it difficult to breathe as well.

Irritants and Triggers

Irritants can also cause inflammation that can lead to asthma. These include:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites, cockroaches
  • Mold
  • Pet hair or dander
  • Changes in weather (especially cold air)
  • Respiratory infections (such as the common cold)
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Stress and strong emotions
  • Exercise and physical activity
  • Allergic reaction to food or sulfites (food preservatives)
  • Heartburn/acid reflux
  • Certain medications (aspirin, beta blockers)

Asthma Diagnoses

Most doctors will examine your breathing ability first to see if there could be other factors playing into your respiratory issues. They will listen to your chest while you perform a handful of tests. They also might test you for various allergens to see if your asthma has been triggered by allergies. Through various breathing tests and other examinations, your physician should be able to pinpoint the cause of your respiratory issues.

Asthma Treatments

Begin by raising your overall health. The body is on entity in which different parts influence each other. Ensuring the whole body is healthy will lessen the symptoms of asthma. Putting forth extra effort to include a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce unnecessary interruptions in the joy of living.

Take Your Medication

Obvious to some but still an issue with others, taking your asthma medication is key to symptom management. Occasionally those living with asthma will feel that the medications they are taking are not effective. On the contrary, medications prescribed by the doctor are necessary and should not be ignored. Daily exercise and a healthy diet will not fully prevent or manage asthma properly so it is important to take asthma mediciation as well.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are modern treatment options for lung disease?

Each form of lung disease demands a different approach in how it is treated. Some are a matter of receiving the right medication, while others may resort to surgical methods or modern cancer-fighting techniques. Based on your diagnosis, physicians and doctors can recommend the best path to take.

In general, if you are suffering from a lung disease it is best to stay away from problematic conditions and areas with an excess of particulate matter in the air. Avoid cigarette smoke and try to breathe oxygen rich air in natural, non-urban environments. Although it might be difficult, taking some time away from pets can also limit the agitation of your respiratory system if you have allergies.

Asthma – Besides the avoidance of environmental stressors like smoke, dust, and other allergens, asthma can be treated with beta2 agonists, anticholinergics, corticosteroids, anti-IgE therapy, and other drugs. Each substance used to treat asthma comes with a unique set of risks and possible side effects, so always consult your doctor while undergoing treatment.

COPD – Again, quitting smoking and avoiding environmental triggers can help manage your symptoms, otherwise medicines are available. Bronchodilators can be used to ease and open the airways, mostly coming in the form of inhalers and other breathable substances. Many of the available medications overlap with treatments for asthma.

Emphysema – There are a variety of treatments available depending on the severity of this condition. Bronchodilators and other inhaled medications can be effective in early stages of the disease, but it may be necessary to undergo surgery to remove small wedges of damaged lung tissue. The last resort is a lung transplant, however, intermittent pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen can maintain one’s health throughout the condition.

Bronchitis – Since it is mostly caused by viral infections, antibiotics are ineffective, however, doctors may still recommend them if it is suspected to be a bacterial infection. Inhaler medications may also be prescribed to allow greater airflow and reduce any inflammation.

Pneumonia – The most effective treatment available is the use of antibiotics due to pneumonia’s status as a bacterial infection. Most people will see an improvement within 2 to 3 days of taking the medication, though it's important to be in close consultation with your doctor during the process.

Pulmonary Embolism – Many times this condition will be treated with anticoagulation medication. Working to prevent pulmonary embolisms is key. Genetic predisposition, smoking, prolonged immobilization, and general damage to the blood vessel walls are all factors that increase the risk of having a pulmonary embolism.

Lung Cancer – Treatment typically includes multiple options including, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted drug therapy.

  • Surgery – Includes the removal of a section or the entirety of the lung. Most surgeries take a small margin of health tissue along with the affected areas to limit the spread of cancer.
  • Chemotherapy – Uses intravenous drugs to kill off cancerous cells. This method often follows a surgery in order to eliminate any cells left behind. It may also be the case that chemotherapy is administered before a surgery in hopes of shrinking tumors.
  • Radiation Therapy – Uses high-powered X-rays and photons to destroy cancer cells. This type of therapy can be directed at cancer cells from outside of the body, or placed near the cancer through needles, seeds, or catheters. 
  • Targeted Drug Therapy – These treatments are the newest addition to the fight against cancer, often involving multiple drugs working in conjunction with one another.

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What are some tips for maintaining healthy lungs?

The most obvious way to maintain healthy lung function is to stop smoking. 8 out of 10 COPD deaths are a direct result of smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. This is also the best bet against developing any number of cancers.

For other lung diseases, proper exercise and regular activities that expand the lungs are great ways to limit the buildup of mucus, which can eventually cause infection.

Washing your hands and avoiding crowds during cold and flu season are also important considerations that help to avoid sickness in any form. Additionally, make sure to stay up to date with your influenza vaccinations. There is also a vaccine for pneumonia, but be sure to consult your doctor to see if it is right for you.

Lung diseases can take many forms ranging from mild ailments to life-threatening conditions. Learning about the different ways to prevent and treat these diseases can ensure your golden years remain a breath of fresh air.

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