Types of Asthma
There are different types of asthma and knowing what type you have can help you better manage your condition.
Exercise-induced asthma is a form of asthma that is triggered by exercising too strenuously or for too long. It is common for sufferers of chronic asthma to develop asthmatic symptoms while exercising but patients with exercise-induced asthma will only suffer the symptoms when they have been exercising. Symptoms tend to occur within 20 minutes of starting the physical activity or within ten minutes after stopping a brief physical exertion.
How does exercise trigger asthma? When you are exercising, you tend to breath more through your mouth means that the air that is breathed in is colder and drier. The bands of muscle around the airways are sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. They react to these changes by contracting which narrows the airways and makes breathing more difficult.
Treatment with medication can effectively control the symptoms that will allow you to continue with normal physical activity. Athletes at all levels can continue to exercise if they adhere to their treatment plan.
It is a good idea for people with exercise-induced asthma to spend some time warming up and cooling down before and after exercising to help minimise symptoms.
Occupational or Work-Related Asthma
Occupational asthma is also known as work-related asthma and refers to a type of asthma that is caused by, or made worse by, exposure to substances in the workplace. Sometimes an allergy to a chemical or other substance may be a problem or in other cases, repeated exposure to a chemical or substance may cause the individualís lungs to become sensitised. For example, health care workers who frequently use latex gloves may develop an allergy to the find protein powders from the lining of the glove that they inhale. Similarly, people who work in the chemical industry and are regularly exposed to the same chemical, will find their lungs can become irritated, resulting in asthma symptoms.
Nocturnal or Night-time Asthma
Nocturnal asthma is a form of asthma where symptoms tend to develop during the night. Nocturnal asthma can be particularly problematic as it can impact on your quality of sleep and leave you feeling tired during the day. Tiredness can have ongoing repercussions on your ability to perform at school or at work. Factors that may play a part in nocturnal asthma include:
- Sleeping in air-conditioning
- Sleeping in a reclined position
- Presence of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Narrowing of the airways during sleep
- Presence of sinusitis.
Some people who suffer from allergies find that their main symptoms tend to be asthmatic in nature. When an allergen is inhaled and comes into contact with sensitized airways, the immune system reacts and causes airway muscles to contract (referred to as bronchospasm) and the airways become inflamed and increased mucus is produced. This is known as allergic asthma. The symptoms of allergic asthma are generally the same as asthma and can include any of the following:
Common allergens that can trigger allergic asthma include:
- Mould spores
- Animal dander
- Dust mite droppings
- Cockroach droppings
Consultation with an allergist can uncover if any allergies may be triggering your asthma.
Sufferers of cough-variant asthma find that their main symptoms are a dry, non-productive cough that means that no mucus is brought up by coughing. Wheezing and shortness of breath normally associated with asthma tends not to be present in cough-variant asthma.
The cough tends to be chronic in nature that means that it persists for longer than six weeks and can occur during the day or at night. Exercise, cold air and exposure to allergens can exacerbate the cough.
Cough-variant asthma is more prevalent in children and may lead to the main form of asthma that includes shortness of breath and wheezing. As this form of asthma often presents with coughing as the only symptom, it may be more difficult to diagnose. Your doctor may treat your cough with asthma medication and if your cough improves, then the likelihood of being diagnosed with cough-variant asthma is increased.
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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.