Spring: Along with the flowers and smells, we welcome… Bronchial Asthma!
One of the most beautiful seasons of the year, Spring, the harbinger of Summer, for more and more of us is also the time of discomfort caused by Bronchial Asthma.
O Dr. Georgios I. Tasopoulos MD, PhD, Pulmonologist, Intensivist and Scientific Director at the Pulmonary Department of YODA Day Care Unit, provides some useful information about this condition, pointing out that Bronchial Asthma is a multifactorial and difficult problem, which with timely diagnosis, appropriate treatment and regular monitoring by a Special Pulmonologist does not prevent the patient from any normal activity nor affect their quality of life.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes inflammation and bronchial stenosis (that is, the narrowing of passage that conducts air into the lungs). It is a global health problem, with about 300,000,000 people suffering in the world. In our country it is estimated that about 500,000 people (children and adults) are suffering.
The main types of asthma are exogenous and endogenous
Exogenous occurs in childhood and is caused by factors such as dust, cat hair, domestic mites, parental smoking, atmospheric pollution, etc.
The cause of endogenous asthma is unknown.
Other forms of asthma are:
- Asthma after exercise (dyspnoea, coughing or wheezing)
- Professional asthma (occurs in jobs with exposure to dust or gasses)
- And night asthma (its symptoms occur during the night)
Symptoms of asthma are dyspnoea, cough, wheezing, the well-known “breath whistling” or a combination of the above symptoms.
The causes of bronchial asthma are:
- Various respiratory infections (such as colds, flu, etc.)
- Allergy-causing substances (such as plant or tree pollen, fungi, household dust, hair, medicines, dairy products, shellfish, etc.)
- Psychological factors (such as intense joy, regret and stress)
- Environmental factors (such as air pollution)
- Occupational factors (such as exposure to pollutants from our job), causing a special type of asthma called occupational bronchial asthma).
The diagnosis of asthma is done by taking the patient’s history and symptoms, as well as by the response to the treatment proposed by the Pulmonologist.
However, quite often, as the reputable pulmonologist points out, there are some tests that need to be done to help diagnose asthma. These are:
Spirometry, which measures lung function by evaluating the flow of air into them. It is the most specific test for the diagnosis, monitoring and choice of treatment for bronchial asthma.
Peak flow measurement, which measures the maximum airflow the patient can achieve in a dynamic exhalation. There are analogue and electronic peak flow meters, which are mainly used to monitor respiratory function at home, especially in patients with a difficult to treat asthma.
In provocation test the patient inhales a substance at increasing doses in order to record the response (bronchospasm) of the patient’s respiratory system to this substance. Depending on the outcome, the physician draws useful conclusions which help diagnose or rule out asthma.
Exercise testing assesses whether exercise affects the lung function.
It can be done with skin tests, or with special blood tests..
It is a useful test because it can identify potential irritants that aggravate asthma (e.g. house dust, mites, pollen, etc.). By knowing them, the patient can avoid them.
The treatment of bronchial asthma is achieved with bronchodilators or pain relievers, which are prescribed when the symptoms manifest, and with prophylactic drugs used during the asthmatic intervals and aimed at preventing new seizures.