Medical Articles Clinica Biblica Hospital – Understanding Asthma

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Understanding Asthma

What is asthma?
It is a chronic and continuous inflammatory disease in the respiratory track which irritates them and shrink them, factors that cause the common symptoms of asthma: chest oppression and a sensation of suffocation, cough, frequent whistles during the day that interfere with normal activities or sleep.

What causes asthma?
Usually, this inflammation is caused by external agents called alergenos, which are substances that cause a reaction that inflames the respiratory track. Triggers vary in each case, but in most cases it begins in childhood and is sometimes associated with high exposition to acarus (microscopic insects in dust found in houses) and cigarette smoke by the mother during pregnancy or passive exposition of children to smoke). In other people, viral infections (colds caused by some virus) and other irritants (pollution, gases, smells), exercise, cold air or medicine can be a significant cause.

Recent research propose as causes for the increasing number of people who suffer form asthma, besides the ones stated: change in eating patterns (less fruit and vegetables), and less exposition to infections, specially intestinal ones (when hygienic conditions improve by development) which cause less defenses against them but increases allergic conditions with asthma.

How is asthma diagnosed?
In classic cases, the diagnosis is facilitated by the symptoms already experienced and which should be included in the medical record (which must include personal and family background) and the physical evaluation of the patient. Sometimes symptoms can be less evident (for example, just cough). The doctor can also measure the degree of respiratory obstruction having the patient blow into a special devise called espirometer or a pick flow meter.
There are special tests performed in the skin or blood that can help identify the substances that cause allergies.

How is asthma treated?
There are medications that help us quickly open up the respiratory track during an asthma attack. They are called bronchodilators, because they relax the contracted muscles around the bronchial tubes. They can be applied as inhalators or nebulizer.

A second group allows controlling inflammation in the long term; they can avoid but cannot stop an attack that has already begun. They also come as inhalators, and there are other oral inflammation modifiers.

You should follow strict medical control and follow the doctor’s indications.

To control asthma:

It is possible to control it and lead a normal life; the key is to have all the information on the disease and to have good communication with the doctor.
You should also take the medication and avoid unwanted agents.
You can use self-monitoring methods (pick flow meter at home) that will help your doctor in the early detection of reactions.


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Phone: (506) 522-1500
Mailing address: International Department Asociaci�n de Servicios M�dicos Costarricenses
J.B.C. SJO #1138, P.O. Box 025240
Miami, Florida 33102-5240, USA
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