Asthma Causes, Symptoms and Medication

There are many factors that can cause the appearance of asthma and its symptoms, while medication is often the only treatment offered by doctors as there is no know medical cure for the condition.

Here in this article we are going to take a closer look at what is known about the cause of this condition, or specifically what modern medicine perceives to be the root cause of it. We also take a look at its major symptoms and the medications offered by the medical profession to relieve those symptoms and make breathing easier.

What Causes Asthma?

The general answer to that question given by medical experts is that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes it to appear in people. To discover the exact cause would require a barrage of tests to be run on the individual.

In general however, what is known for sure is that:

  • People are more likely to develop the condition if they have a family history of asthma, eczema or allergies
  • It's likely that this family history combined with certain environmental factors influences whether or not a person will develop this or related respiratory illnesses
  • Many aspects of modern lifestyles, for instance changes in housing and diet and a more hygienic environment have been put forward as likely reasons which may have contributed to the rise in the disease over the last few decades
  • Smoking during pregnancy has been shown to significantly increases the risk of its development in children
  • Children whose parents smoke have been shown to be more likely to develop asthma
  • Environmental pollution is a big factor in exacerbating its symptoms and may well play a part in causing the problem initially
  • Adult onset asthma may develop following contraction of a viral infection
  • Certain irritants found in the workplace could possibly lead to its development (known as occupational asthma)

There may well be many other factors that cause this condition to manifest, but these listed above are those best known at present.

Asthma Symptoms

So now we know many of the things that can cause this problem, we'll now take a look at what the some of its symptoms.

Asthma is a condition that specifically affects the airways, or bronchial passageways that make up the body's respiratory system. In layman's terms, these are the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs.

When a person suffering from this condition comes into contact with something that irritates their airways (known as an asthma trigger), the muscles surrounding the walls of the airways tighten causing the airways to become narrower. The lining of the airways also becomes inflamed and starts to swell.

Sometimes a sticky mucus or phlegm layer builds up which can further narrow the airways, making breathing more difficult.

The upshot of this is that all these reactions will cause the airways to become narrower and irritated in some way. The whole process makes it progressively more difficult to breath than normal and leading to potentially dangerous blocking of the breathing passages if not treated quickly.

The typical symptoms of asthma are:

  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest

Not everyone will display all of these symptoms. Some people can experience them from time to time and also a few people may experience these symptoms all the time.

Asthma Medication

The medication prescribed for this illness takes many forms. But primarily there are two main types that are used with inhalers to direct the medication directly to the airways and ensure that almost none of that medication is wasted.

There are preventative inhalers that contain mild steroid medication to gradually reduce the inflammation and swelling of the airways to help to prevent future attacks from taking place.

Then there are the reliever inhalers that contain medication to quickly relieve the symptoms of inflammation and the resultant reduction of the size of the airways as they occur.

The actual types of medication and their properties used in both preventative and reliever inhalers comprise corticosteroids which are discussed in our article on common treatments for asthma although their medical descriptions and explanations can be quite in depth and outside the scope of this website.