Gasping for breath can be the most frightening feeling in the world. Asthma is a chronic condition in which inflammation of the airways in the bronchial system and the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes make breathing difficult. There are several types of asthma, and while the general treatment is the same, knowing which type of asthma you have can make a big difference in the types of management and treatment that will help you.
No matter which type of asthma your doctor says you have, the basic mechanics of the disease are the same:
Your body is exposed to an asthma trigger. It overreacts to the trigger, causing inflammation of the cells in the lungs and bronchial passages. At the same time, the muscles around the bronchial cells constrict, choking off even more air from reaching your lungs. The trigger is what defines the type of asthma that you have.
The more common type of asthma is allergy induced asthma. Allergy induced asthma seems to be diagnosed far more often over the last twenty years. Doctors who’ve studied it say that a small part of the increase in diagnoses may be due to doctors being better at making the diagnosis. It doesn’t account for the astounding number of new cases, though. Researchers believe that may be due to several different factors, among them that we have so effectively killed off normal childhood diseases that children are not exposed to germs that help the immune system to mature. Other doctors believe that it’s simply a matter of more children being exposed to the most common allergens that cause asthma. Those common allergens include pet dander, dust mites, cockroach parts, dust and mold.
The other common type of asthma is exercise induced asthma. While some doctors believe that exercise induced asthma is just very mild allergic asthma that is only triggered when exercise puts extra stress on the body, others think that exercise induced asthma is a completely different type of asthma.
Exercise induced asthma is triggered by physical activity. There are some circumstances that can make an asthma attack more likely during exercise. Those include the temperature of the air, the level of pollen and other air contaminants, the presence of allergens and your own physical condition.
You CAN lessen the frequency and severity of asthma attacks by knowing what type of asthma you are dealing with, and learning how to moderate the effects and avoid the triggers. In general:
For allergy induced asthma:
Avoid common and known triggers
Use mattress covers and pillowcases to cut down on dust mites
Get rid of carpets that can harbor dust mites
Use pest reduction services to get rid of cockroaches and rodents
Vacuum once a week with canister vacuum
Use HEPA air filters
For exercise induced asthma
Warm up before exercising
Take a dose of your bronchodilator about 15 minutes before a workout
If possible, exercise in short bursts with breaks in between to catch your breath.
Breathe in through your nose, exhale through your mouth. In fact, blow your breath out to make room for more new air with each breath.
For other types of asthma:
Avoid common triggers