Asthma is the most common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. It is a condition in which the airways narrow and swell and then produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, Professor of chest diseases and allergies at Ain Shams University Tarek Safwat told Daily News Egypt during the fourteenth regional assembly of the Egyptian Society of Bronchology.
He said that, for some, asthma is a minor irritation but for others can be a major problem that severely interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack. Asthma cannot be totally cured but its symptoms can be easily controlled. Because asthma often changed over time, it is important for patients to work with their doctors to keep up with their symptoms and follow needed treatment plans.
Safwat said asthma is characterised by the inflammation of the bronchial tubes with increased production of mucus secretions inside. People with asthma experience symptoms when the airways tighten, inflame, or become filled with mucus. Common asthma symptoms might include coughing wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, pain, or pressure especially at night.
Not every person with asthma has the same symptoms. People may have all of these symptoms specifically or have different symptoms at different times. Asthma symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, mild once and severe another times.
He said some people with asthma may go for long periods without displaying any symptoms, periodically interrupted by worsening symptoms called asthma attacks. Others might have asthma symptoms every day. Furthermore, some may only have asthma while exercise or with viral infections, such as colds.
He added that mild asthma attacks are generally more common. Usually, the airways open up within a few minutes to a few hours. Severe attacks are less common, but they may last longer and require immediate medical attention. It is important to recognise and treat even mild asthma symptoms to help in preventing severe episodes and always keep asthma under better control.
As for treatment, professor of chest diseases and allergies at Ain Shams University, Adel Khatab, told Daily News Egypt that prevention and long term control are essential in stopping asthma attacks before they have even occur. He said treatment usually involves learning asthma triggers, taking steps to avoid them, and tracking breathing to make sure the daily asthma medications are keeping symptoms under control.
Khatab said that the right medications depend on a number of aspects, such as age, symptoms, asthma triggers, and what works best to keep asthma under control. He said preventive, long-term control medications reduce the inflammation in airways that leads to the symptoms.
Quick-relief inhalers quickly open swollen airways that limit breathing. In some cases, allergy medications are necessary.
Long-term asthma control medications, generally taken daily, are the cornerstone of asthma treatment. These medications keep asthma under control on a day-to-day basis and make it less likely for an asthma attack.
Khatab clarified that cortisone in medication or inhalers are not dangers and do not lead to obesity, as many people believe. The medication treats asthma and includes small doses of cortisone that are not harmful and is the most effective medications to treat asthma.
Further, professor of chest diseases and allergies at Ain Shams University Ashraf Madkour said asthma cannot be totally cured but can easily be controlled by avoiding asthma triggers, quitting smoking which is top priority, following a treatment plan, and regularly taking medications. He said people can easily live with asthma if it is controlled well and treated regularly.