What is Asthma?
Asthma is a common and sometimes debilitating respiratory disorder which can affect people of all ages. Sufferers may occasionally experience difficulty in breathing, accompanied by a wheeze and a tight, restricted chest. Other symptoms may include coughing, vomiting and shaking.
People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs. When they are exposed to certain triggers, their airways narrow, making it hard for them to breathe.
Two main factors cause the airways to become narrow:
the inside lining of the airways becomes swollen (this is called inflammation) and extra mucus is produced
the muscles around the airways tighten (this is called broncho-constriction).
Allergic vs. non-allergic asthma
There are two different types of asthma – allergic and non-allergic.
In allergic asthma, the symptoms are usually the result of inhaling or consuming some kind of external substance, such as pollen, dust mites, mould, MSG (monosodium glutamate), wheat or dairy produce.
Non-allergic asthma can be triggered by a range of different factors, including fatigue, physical exertion, some medications, stress, or exposure to environments which are cool and damp.
During an asthma attack…
Asthma is basically a breathing problem resulting from increased sensitivity of the airways which is provoked by a range of stimuli or “triggers”. The bronchial spasm, or narrowing of the airways, is recurrent and reversible.
When an asthma attack starts, the muscle layer within the airway wall contracts, causing the airways to narrow and mucous to be secreted into the airways.
As a result, it is more difficult for air to flow in and out of the lungs and breathing becomes difficult.