What is Bronchial Asthma

You may still sometimes hear asthma referred to as ‘bronchial asthma is there a difference between ‘asthma and ‘bronchial asthma?

Not really, say doctors. Its just an older nomenclature for a condition in which the bronchial tubes are constricted and inflamed, causing difficulty in breathing. Most people who have bronchial asthma have periods of time free of symptoms punctuated by “asthma attacks”, with wheezing and shortness of breath. For others, the primary symptom of bronchial asthma is coughing, especially after exercise or at night. People with bronchial asthma may have very mild symptoms that are almost unnoticeable for years, or they may have recurrent episodes of difficulty breathing. An asthma attack can kill and the incidence of fatal asthma attacks in otherwise healthy young children has become an alarming statistic, particularly in urban settings.

The prevalence of bronchial asthma has increased enormously over the past 25 years from less than three percent of the population to nearly eight percent. Of that increase, the majority of new cases of asthma are found in the inner city, where crowding and environmental conditions expose children to some of the most common asthma triggers and allergens dust mites, cockroach parts and secondhand smoke.

Doctors are now leaning toward managing bronchial asthma by providing an asthma management plan that consists of several parts rescue medication, preventative medication, education, environmental management and daily monitoring. If you or your child is diagnosed with bronchial asthma, the doctor or a nurse will spend time with you explaining the symptoms of asthma, the signs of an oncoming attack, how to take your medicine and how to monitor your condition using a peak flow meter or your own observations so that you can catch an asthma attack before it becomes acute and life threatening.

Rescue Medication is usually in the form of an inhaler that can be used if you have an asthma attack. Most often, it contains a bronchodilator medicine that relaxes the muscles around the bronchial tubes and makes it easier to move air through them. An inhaler is a tube of medicine that fits into a spacer or mouthpiece. When its pressed or triggered, it delivers a measured dose of the relaxant drug in a fine mist that can be inhaled directly into the lungs. Sometimes bronchodilators are prescribed as preventatives on a daily basis as well as for emergency rescue use.

Preventative Medication may be prescribed as either oral or inhaled corticosteroids. Unlike bronchodilators, steroids are of no use in an acute attack. Rather, their role is to reduce chronic inflammation that leads to worsening symptoms. When a bronchodilator is prescribed along with a steroid inhaler, the purpose is to open the bronchial passages first so that the anti-inflammatory steroid can make its way into the lungs.

Environmental management consists of removing and/or controlling the allergens in the environment around you (or the child with asthma). It may include removing carpets, washing down surfaces and forbidding pets from the bedroom or the house, depending on the specific case.

Monitoring your condition
is a part of your responsibility for your health. If the doctor feels that its necessary, hell prescribe a peak flow meter to measure your breathing ability each day. If he doesnt, you can still monitor your bronchial asthma by paying attention to what your body is telling you. Are you out of breath more often? Do you need your rescue inhaler more often? Does it take you longer to recover from physical activity? All of those things will help you to monitor your asthma and know if you need to try a different treatment.

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