Asthma Definition, Reason, Symptom, Treatment, Prevention

Asthma Definition, Reason, Symptom, Treatment, Prevention


Asthma is a long-term disease of the airways characterized by narrowing and inflammation of the airways. The result is a feeling of shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms of asthma are chest pain, coughing, and wheezing.

The respiratory tract of people with asthma tend to be more sensitive than those who do not have it. That is why when the lungs of people with asthma are irritated, one of the triggers, the respiratory muscles will become stiff and the airways will narrow. Some of the triggers include cigarette smoke, exposure to chemicals, animal hair, or even cold air.

WHO estimates that around 235 million of the world’s population are asthmatic. According to data from the 2013 Indonesian Ministry of Health Health Data Research, asthma sufferers in Indonesia are 4.5 percent of the total population. The highest prevalence of asthma is in Central Sulawesi at 7.8 percent, followed by East Nusa Tenggara 7.3 percent, DI Yogyakarta 6.9 percent, and South Sulawesi 6.7 percent.

Asthma can attack anyone and cannot be cured. However, proper treatment can control attacks and sufferers can enjoy a quality life.

If you have had asthma as a child, the symptoms may disappear in adolescence and reappear in adulthood. However, asthma symptoms with moderate and severe categories in childhood will tend to persist. Asthma can appear at any age, it doesn’t always start in childhood.

Asthma is a chronic disease. If not handled properly, effects on quality of life can be found, including:

  • Tired easily
  • Psychological problems such as depression
  • Growth disorders in children
  • Refractory asthma, severe asthma even after using maximum therapy
  • Breathing failure
  • Lung damage


Most people with asthma must have experienced difficulty breathing. Patients with severe conditions may even experience it more often. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing (the sound produced by air as it passes through narrowed airways), chest tightness, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

Indeed, asthma symptoms can be caused by many things but can be confirmed as asthma if:

  • Frequent relapse
  • Asthma symptoms are more severe in the middle of the night and early in the morning
  • It seems to occur in response to an asthma trigger—such as excessive physical activity or exposure to an allergen (such as animal dander).
    Asthma symptoms that worsen over a short period of time are known as asthma attacks. This can happen suddenly or gradually over several days. Symptoms of an asthma attack include:
  • Wheezing, coughing, and chest feels like being squeezed and feels heavier and more frequent
  • Eating, talking, and sleeping activities are disturbed by difficulty breathing
  • Heart beat
  • Drowsiness, confusion, fatigue, or dizziness
  • Blue fingers or lips
  • Fainting
    If you have been diagnosed with asthma, at the time of an asthma attack this reliever inhaler will not help and the results of the peak respiratory flow test appear to have decreased quite dramatically. Immediately see a doctor for further treatment.


The cause of asthma is not yet known. People with asthma have swollen and sensitive airways. When exposed to factors that trigger asthma, the airways are more easily narrowed and clogged with mucus.

Here are some things that can trigger and cause asthma:

  • Infections, especially those related to the upper respiratory tract such as the flu
  • Animal fur
  • Cigarette smoke, air pollution
  • Medications, eg non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Excessive emotions, such as laughing out loud
  • Food allergies, such as peanut allergies
  • Stress
  • Weather, including changes in air temperature, cold air, humidity
  • Humid or dusty indoor conditions
  • Sport

Once the cause of asthma has been identified, try to avoid it in order to control asthma symptoms.


To confirm the diagnosis of asthma, the doctor will perform a series of examinations. Starting from the patient interview by asking questions about the symptoms felt, such as when these symptoms appeared and their frequency, whether shortness of breath was accompanied by chest pain, and family medical history.

If the information obtained leads to asthma, the doctor will then perform a physical examination and laboratory tests. The following are tests that doctors generally perform in the process of diagnosing asthma:


The patient will be asked to take deep breaths and exhale as quickly as possible into the spirometer. This test is intended to measure lung performance based on the volume of air the patient can exhale in one second and the total amount of air exhaled.

To determine the condition of the respiratory tract, the data obtained will be compared with the average measurement of healthy people your age. Your doctor will probably do this test twice; before using the inhaler and after using the inhaler. If the test results after using the inhaler are better, then the patient most likely has asthma.

Peak Expiratory Flow Rate Test

This test is carried out with the aim of measuring the level of exhaled air. The doctor will ask you to exhale as quickly as possible into the peak flow meter (PFM). The results will show how fast you can exhale air from your lungs in one breath.

Doctors can advise patients to buy PFM for home use. Then you will be asked to take the test every day and record the results and when the test was done. This will provide accurate data to know when asthma is worsening.

Other Asthma Tests

In addition to the two tests above, some of the following tests may be needed to diagnose asthma or help detect other diseases. The tests in question are:

  • Airway response test

Examination is done to determine the reaction of the airways if exposed to one of the triggers of asthma. You will be asked to inhale a dry powder (mannitol) which increases in amount as the test progresses. Then you will exhale into the spirometer to see how high the rate of change in FEV1 and FVC is after being exposed to the trigger. If it drops drastically, then most likely the patient has asthma.

  • Allergy check

Doctors will do allergy tests to find out if asthma symptoms occur because of an allergy to something.
CT scan

If the doctor suspects that shortness of breath is not a symptom of asthma but a lung infection or nasal cavity abnormality, a CT scan will be performed.

Risk factor


Although the exact cause of asthma is not known. However, there are several things that can increase your risk for the disease, including the following:

  • Have a family history of asthma or atopic diseases such as eczema
  • Have an atopic condition
  • Suffering from bronchitis
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke as a child
  • Mother smoked while pregnant with the patient
  • Born premature or low birth weight


Asthma treatment has two goals, namely to relieve symptoms and prevent symptoms from recurring. Of course, asthma treatment must be adjusted to the results of the doctor’s diagnosis and the patient’s condition.

Asthma treatments include:

  • Avoid triggers for symptoms
  • Using a reliever inhaler –used to treat short-term asthma symptoms by relaxing the airways
  • Use of preventive inhalers – used regularly every day to reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract and prevent asthma symptoms from relapse
  • Use of a combination preventer and reliever inhaler – used every day to prevent asthma symptoms and relax the airways for a longer period of time

Asthma Treatment Plan

Your doctor will guide you to keep an individual asthma management journal. It contains information about the medications you are taking, how to monitor your condition, and what to do in the event of an asthma attack. It is recommended that this treatment plan be reviewed at least once a year. If asthma symptoms worsen, the review should be done more often.

One of the information that you must record in the journal is the result of checking the peak flow meter. So, you will be advised to buy it. This way, you can monitor your asthma condition so you can predict an asthma attack and take the necessary treatment steps.

Recommended Asthma Medicines

In addition to treatment with inhalers, asthma medications are sometimes also needed in the treatment plan, for example:

  • Theophylline tablets. Generally, asthma medications are given to help widen the airways by relaxing the surrounding muscles. Side effects of this drug include nausea, headache, vomiting, and stomach upset.
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonist (montelukast) tablets . This type of asthma medication is taken once a day to prevent inflammation in the respiratory tract. This drug is used to prevent asthma symptoms. Side effects include stomach upset or headaches.

Oral Steroids

If your asthma is still not under control, your doctor may suggest taking steroid tablets. This drug can relieve inflammation that occurs in the respiratory tract.

Pulmonary specialists will monitor the use of this drug because if it is consumed in the long term it will have side effects on bone loss, hypertension, diabetes, weakened muscles, thinning skin, and increased appetite. More serious side effects are cataracts or glaucoma.

Usually, the doctor will only give medicine for a short period of time as an additional drug to treat other infections. After that, the patient will return to the previous treatment plan.

Asthma Control

Although asthma cannot be cured, sufferers can lead a quality life if they do the following:

    • Recognizing and avoiding asthma triggers
    • Recognizing asthma attacks and appropriate treatment steps
    • Using the medicine given by the doctor regularly
    • Pay attention to the condition of your airway

Understanding Asthma: Mild, Moderate, and Severe with ACCP CHEST

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