What is Asthma
Asthma is a common respiratory disease that is driven by chronic airway inflammation, resulting in breathing difficulties. Symptoms include wheezing, difficulty in breathing, chest tightness and coughing and can vary in frequency and intensity. Symptoms tend to be worse at night or in the early morning. They can be triggered by changes in weather, respiratory infections, exercise or exposure to allergens or irritants. In most cases, symptoms can be minimised with good asthma management and preventer inhalers.
Asthma tends to start in childhood, but some develop it in adulthood. Allergic asthma can be associated with allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, eczema and allergies. Non-allergic asthma may be associated with obesity, chronic rhinosinusitis or nasal polyps. Exercise-induced asthma, which some elite athletes have, can be triggered by physical exertion, cold or dry air inhalation. Proper asthma treatment will improve exercise performance and reduce symptoms.
Asthma specialists will first exclude the most common causes of continual symptoms - poor inhaler technique, not following treatment plan, cigarette smoking, environmental factors or another medical condition.
However, a small group of people will still have poor asthma control and severe asthma attacks despite best efforts. It is important not to be discouraged. They can still benefit from systemic evaluation by a severe asthma specialist and individualised treatment with macrolide therapy, targeted biologic therapy, immunotherapy or bronchial thermoplasty (adults).
Common misconceptions in asthma