School Health Newsletter
May Is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month
What Are the Symptoms of Asthma?
What Happens During an Asthma Episode?
During normal breathing, the airways to the lungs are fully open. This allows air to move in and out of the lungs freely. Asthma causes the airways to change in the following ways:
- The airway branches leading to the lungs become overly reactive and more sensitive to all kinds of asthma triggers
- The linings of the airways swell and become inflamed
- Mucus clogs the airways
- Muscles tighten around the airways (bronchospasm)
- The lungs have difficulty moving air in and out (airflow obstruction: moving air out can be especially difficult)
These changes narrow the airways. Breathing becomes difficult and stressful, like trying to breathe through a straw stuffed with cotton.
What Causes or Triggers Asthma?
People with asthma have inflamed airways which are sensitive to things which may not bother other people. These things are “triggers.”
Asthma triggers vary from person to person. Some people react to only a few while others react to many.
If you have asthma, it is important to keep track of the causes or triggers that you know provoke your asthma. Because the symptoms do not always occur right after exposure, this may take a bit of detective work. Delayed asthma episodes may occur depending on the type of trigger and how sensitive a person is to it.
Allergies (Allergic Asthma)
Substances that cause allergies (allergens) can trigger asthma. If you inhale something you are allergic to, you may experience asthma symptoms. It is best to avoid or limit contact with known allergens to decrease or prevent asthma episodes.
Common allergens that cause allergic asthma include:
Irritants in the Air
Irritants in the environment can also bring on an asthma episode. Although people are not allergic to these items, they can bother inflamed, sensitive airways:
- Smoke from cigarettes
- Air pollution such as smog, ozone and others
- Wood fires
- Charcoal grills
- Strong fumes, vapors or odors (such as paint, gasoline, perfumes and scented soaps)
- Dust and particles in the air
Preventing Asthma Episodes and Controlling Your Asthma
For people with asthma, having an asthma management plan is the best way to prevent symptoms. An asthma management plan is something developed by you and your doctor to help you control your asthma, instead of your asthma controlling you. An effective plan should allow you to:
- Be active without having asthma symptoms
- Fully take part in exercise and sports
- Sleep all night, without asthma symptoms
- Attend school or work regularly
- Have the clearest lungs possible
- Have few or no side effects from asthma medicines
- Have no emergency visits or stays in the hospital
Four Parts of Your Asthma Management Plan: https://www.aafa.org/asthma-prevention/