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All You Need to Know About Asthma

Asthma

Asthma is a kind of bronchus allergic disease. The patient's bronchi tend to contract when stimulated by foreign substances. Symptoms include wheezing, a choking sensation in the chest and coughing. In severe situation, patient may have difficulty in breathing. If oxygen supply is insufficient for all parts of the body, the patient will die because of lack of oxygen in the brain.

Categories of Asthma

1.

Allergic Asthma

  • Usually occurs in children. Some cases are hereditary. Patients or their family members are likely to have other allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, eczema, etc.
2.

Endogenous Asthma

  • Usually occurs in adults. Most cases are induced by virus or bacteria and are usually not related to hereditary or allergies.

Factors that Induce Asthma

1. Substances in the household that may induce asthma are
  • Dust mite
  • Hair or excretion of pets
  • Pollen of pot-plants
2. Polluted air, e.g. exhaust gas from cars, dust and dirt from construction sites, cigarette smoke
3.

Cold air

  • The weather turns cold suddenly
  • A sudden change in temperature, e.g. entering/leaving an air-conditioned room
4. Food or medicine that causes allergic reaction
5. Respiratory tract infections
6.

Unhealthy lifestyles

  • Emotional anxiety or depression
  • Strenuous physical activities

Preventive Methods

1.

Keep your home clean

  • Always keep your home clean and well ventilated to prevent accumulation of dust and breeding of dust mites
  • Use vacuum cleaner or wet mop to clean the floor daily. Clean your home when your child is in school or not at home
  • Avoid carpets, velvet upholstered sofa, down pillows and quilts
  • Pillows or quilts should be sealed in smooth nylon covers. Bed sheets and quilt covers should be changed and washed with hot water frequently. Latex pillow and cotton blanket are alternatives
  • Clothes should be washed frequently and placed in wardrobes. Unwashable clothes should be placed under the sun frequently to kill mites
  • Do not grow flowering plants nor keep pets such as cats, dogs or birds
  • Use blinds instead of curtains
2.

Avoid polluted air

  • Keep your home well ventilated
  • Family members should not smoke when they are around the patient
  • Avoid going to crowded places such as cinemas or restaurants. Places filled with dust such as construction sites should particularly be avoided
3.

Beware of change in weather

  • When going out in winter or when a cold front arrives, wear enough clothes but avoid down coats or woollen sweaters
  • Avoid drastic changes of temperature, e.g. entering a very cold air-conditioned room on a hot day
4. Avoid taking food or medicine or using chemicals that has caused allergic reaction before
  • Food such as shrimps, crabs or clams
  • Medicine such as aspirin, penicillin
  • Chemicals and volatile disinfection agents such as Dettol or Ether
5.

Treat respiratory tract infections early

  • Consult your doctor as soon as possible and take medication as instructed if you suffer from respiratory tract infections such as common cold or influenza
6.

Keep a healthy lifestyle

  • Relax and be cheerful
  • Get enough sleep and avoid excessive fatigue
  • Perform appropriate amount of physical activity. Encourage patients to participate in sports activities within their physical ability
    * Do warm-up exercise
    * Avoid catching cold after sweating in sports activities
    * Do not perform physical activity during an asthma attack
  • Keep a balanced diet. No need to avoid specific food except for those which have caused allergic reaction before
  • Drink lots of warm water to keep bronchi moist

Management of Asthma Attack

  • Always bring along your medication and take it at the earliest sign of an asthma attack
  • When the patient is having an asthma attack, parents should keep calm and take the patient to a quiet and well ventilated place to rest. Let the patient sit on a chair and rest his/her head on a pillow on the desk.
  • The illness will deteriorate if the patient feels uneasy, so parents should try their best to comfort the patient
  • Let patient drink lots of warm water to keep the bronchi moist so as to ease breathing
  • Take an extra dose of bronchodilator according to doctor's instructions. Use metered dose inhaler if possible because it is the most effective method
  • After taking extra medication, if the patient still wheezes, has difficulty in breathing, is unable to speak properly, shows signs of mental confusion, lips turn blue or sweats, take the patient to the closest clinic or Accident and Emergency Department immediately

Advice for Parents with Asthmatic Child

  • Avoid asthma inducing factors such as dust
  • Your child should take medication according to doctor's instruction and have regular check-ups
  • Teach your child and make sure that he/she knows how to use metered dose inhalers
  • Treat respiratory tract infections as early as possible
  • Make sure your child perform appropriate amount of physical activity
  • Give adequate support and encouragement to your child but avoid over-protection which makes your child dependent and spoilt
  • Notify the school about your child's illness
  • Your child should always carry a medical card stating his/her medical history, medication used and medicine or food that has caused allergic reaction before
  • When going abroad, make sure to bring along the medical card and a sufficient quantity of the appropriate medicine
 
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