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Asthma: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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Table of contents

  1. Causes of Asthma
  2. Symptoms of Asthma
  3. Management and Treatment of Asthma

Asthma is a global non-communicable disease which has a huge public health implication for both adults and children. It is characterized by mortality and morbidity Research indicate that prevalence in asthma is higher in children compared to adults. Middle income countries are the most affected due to environmental factors (Dharmage, Perret & Custovic, 2019). It is a chronic disease that affects airways, these are the tubes which transport air in as well as out of the lungs. The interferes with the breathing process due to bronchoconstriction and inflammation of the airways. It is a condition whereby airways swell and narrow as extra mucus is produced.

The narrowing of the airways means that breathing becomes labored. This condition triggers wheezing, cough and shortness of breath. The problems and conditions related to the disease points ranges from a minor discomfort to a serious and life-threatening asthmatic attack (Dharmage, Perret & Custovic, 2019). The disease cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be managed and controlled. It is not possible to treat the disease since it changes over time and hence the need to trace and understand the inherent signs and symptoms and adjust treatment accordingly (Dharmage, Perret & Custovic, 2019). Based on these facts, it is important to analyze causes, signs and symptoms as well as treatment of asthma and this forms the basis of this research.

Currently, asthma is the most common non-communicable disease and for a long time it has had a huge impact on quality of life. Just as already indicated, the impact of asthma can range from life threatening to mild (Dharmage, Perret & Custovic, 2019). However, whether mild or life-threatening, the disease has a huge implication on the quality of life and hence the need for victims to always seek medication (Dharmage, Perret & Custovic, 2019). Worldwide, asthma is ranked 16th as the leading cause of years that people live with disability. The burden of living with asthma can be enormous. According to Dharmage, Perret & Custovic(2019) more than 300 million people have asthma worldwide. It is estimated that by 2025 100 million more will be affected. This raises concerns and calls for the need to mitigate the problem and improve quality of life for millions of people across the world (Kemp & Craig, 2009). It is on the same basis that an understanding of the disease should be enhanced, and public sensitizations improved at all levels.

On asthma prevalence, it can be argued that there is a large geographical variation with regard to severity, prevalence and mortality. Research shows that asthma is higher in the high-income nations. But mortality is higher in low income nations for reasons such as lack of resources and expertise to deal with it. Despite the advancement in technology in the treatment of asthma in the recent decades, more needs to be done to educate patients on the gains made in curbing the problem (Widegren, Andersson & Greiff, 2009).

Currently, there is evidence that asthma is a complex multifactorial disorder and is attributed to interactions between genetic susceptibility, environmental and host factors. The host factors include, weather, pollution, mold and pollen grains. Mechanism of asthma include airway inflammation, control of airway reactivity and tone. These variables define and dictate the emerging signs and symptoms, and as already indicated an understanding of these implications can help deal with the issue and problem of asthma, both locally and globally (Widegren, Andersson & Greiff, 2009). It is on this basis that it is ideal to look at causes, signs and symptoms of the disease as well as its treatment.

Causes of Asthma

The actual causes of asthma remain unknown. However, what is known is that it is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the airwaves. What can be termed as causes are actually triggers (Alford, 2001). What happens is that as the trigger comes into contact with the airways, inflammation occurs and they get narrow, they are then filled with mucus (Alford, 2001). When a trigger occurs, an attack happens.

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Asthma attack is characterized by narrowing of the airways making breathing harder and almost impossible (Widegren, Andersson & Greiff, 2009). The narrowing of the airways occurs when spasms are inflamed. It is then preceded by swelling of the mucosal membrane (Alford, 2001). The attacks are characterized by shortness of breath cough or wheezes the body fights and get rid of the mucus. Some of the most common causes of Asthma attacks comprise of allergies, food and food additives, exercise, smoking, heartburn, sinusitis, medications, weather and smoke. These triggers can lead to either a mild or severe asthma attack and forms the point of reference in the understanding of the causes and implications of the condition (Kemp & Craig, 2009). An understanding of these conditions can help manage and mitigate problems associated with asthma as a medical condition.

Allergies and asthma are a common problem. Allergies contribute to most cases of asthma (Rutkowski, 2005). Research indicate that more than 80% of individuals suffering from asthma have allergies to things like weed pollens, grass, trees, fabrics and dust. An exposure to some of these things can lead to asthma attack (Rutkowski, 2005). Food and additives as allergies can lead to a mild or severe asthma attack. The same can lead to a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis (Rutkowski, 2005). Foods associated with allergic symptoms include, peanuts, eggs, tree nuts and soy. Food preservatives and especially sulfite additives which are used on food processing are likely to trigger asthma.

Symptoms of Asthma

Signs and symptoms of asthma vary from one individual to another (Dharmage, Perret & Custovic, 2019). For example, mild asthma could have symptoms only at particular times (Widegren, Andersson & Greiff, 2009). In most cases, these symptoms are sporadic and only occur at times when one is exercising or exposed to certain triggers like the pollen grains (Dharmage, Perret & Custovic, 2019). These signs and symptoms include, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, coughing and wheezing (Widegren, Andersson & Greiff, 2009). Most common symptoms of asthma include, chest pain and tightness, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping.

Trouble sleeping is caused by shortness of breath and could lead to wheezing and coughing. Wheezing or whistling sound are other common symptoms which worsens by the respiratory virus such as flu and cold. (Lara & Esthela Hernandez, 2012) The highlighted symptoms are common to both mild and severe cases of asthma. However, signs which indicate that asthma is probably worsening include, increasing difficulty in breathing (Lara & Esthela Hernandez, 2012). This is measured by the use of a peak and flow meter, a tool used for measuring functions of the lungs. In this case, inhaler can be used, but each and every inhaler is designed to meet an individual’s needs and requirements.

It is important, however, to indicate that signs and symptoms of asthma to some people can flare up in particular circumstances (Cheung, LeMay, Saini & Smith, 2014). Exercise-induced asthma is an example of special circumstance and the same may worsen when the air is dry and cold. Occupational asthma is another case of special signs and symptoms of asthma and is induced by workplace chemical fumes, dusts and poisonous gases (Cheung, LeMay, Saini & Smith, 2014). Finally, allergy-induced asthma is another special case with unique signs and symptoms. These signs are initiated by airborne materials such as pollen, spores and cockroaches waste, dried saliva and fabric particles floating in air. In these cases, the symptoms can be severe (Coşkun, Ercan & Bostanci, 2019).

Management and Treatment of Asthma

Management and treatment of asthma requires routine tracking of symptoms as well as measuring how well the lungs are working (Warman, 2000). It involves taking an active role in the treatment and management process. These initiatives can help prevent asthma attacks and avoid long term problems. The first step is to create asthma action plan with the help of your doctor. The plan should be written and tailored to particular needs of the individual (Warman, 2000). The first action plan is to track the symptoms.

Tracking symptoms such as shortness of breath, painful chest and wheezing can help determine when medication is required. Secondly, record how the longs are working (Warman, 2000). It involves recording results of breathing test. Finally, one needs to adjust treatment according to the designed action plan. Treatment should be tailored to suit the particular signs of symptoms of the conditions (Dogru, Ozde, Aktas & Yuksel Karatoprak, 2015).

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Asthma: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment. (2021, September 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“Asthma: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment.” Edubirdie, 09 Sept. 2021,
Asthma: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Feb. 2024].
Asthma: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 09 [cited 2024 Feb 26]. Available from:
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