Asthma is a condition characterized by recurrent episodes of cough, breathlessness, wheezing and phlegm. There is inflammation and narrowing of airways due to mucosal swelling and mucus production which makes breathing difficult and trigger coughing. Symptoms are characteristically present at night or in the early mornings. Other symptoms may include feeling very tired or weak when exercising, getting easily upset and moody.

Each episode is precipitated by occurrence of an infection like colds and flu or exposure to common allergens such as pollen, dust mites, moulds, pets and animal fur or feathers or other triggers such as smoke, fumes and air pollution. Sometimes an attack is precipitated by emotional outbursts including stress, depression or even a laughter. Medicine like anti-inflammatory painkillers (ibuprofen and aspirin) can also precipitate asthma. advises that poor eating habits, such as frequent consumption of sugary foods, are also responsible for the increase of asthma in children and teens,

Asthma is a chronic disease traditionally classified as intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent depending upon the presentation and clinical severity of symptoms. Severe asthma is a particular phenotype which remains uncontrolled besides the administration of standard treatment schedule. One should contact the best chest physician in the town for treatment of severe asthma.

Asthma is treated with long-term medications such as inhaled corticosteroids to control the airway inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms and to reduce or eliminate asthma flare-ups. In addition to taking asthma medications, it is important to take care of triggers and maintain a healthy life-style. Dr Aditya Jindal of Chest Clinics, Chandigarh answers some of the common questions posed by a patient:
Q. I have to wake up almost every night in the early morning hours because of breathlessness and wheezing. What should I do?
A. You need preventive treatment with a controller inhaler. The daily night time awakening is an indication that your asthma is under poor control. Treating these symptoms with reliever medication alone is not appropriate; controller medications are indicated.
Q. Is not the inhalational treatment addictive?
A. Using inhaler treatment is not addictive at all. Inhalers are required to continue for better control of asthma. You should not restrict your activities for fear of drugs. If you remain free of symptoms and your doctor’s assessment about your lung function is satisfactory, the treatment can be stepped-down, reduced or even stopped at the opportune time. Stepping up and stepping down of treatment must be done by your doctor.

Q. Will it interfere with my life and career?
A. No.
Q. Should I stop doing my regular exercises?
A. Certainly not. You must control your asthma well and continue with exercise and other activities. Of course, it will not be possible to exert and exercise during symptomatic period if the disease is not well controlled.
Q. What type of exercise will suit me better?
A. In general, swimming, gymnastics and yoga are better tolerated. But you can continue with your normal games and other exercises unless there is any aggravation of your asthma.
Q. Should I avoid any food item?
A. Only if you notice that a particular food item is definitely related to your asthma. There is no general restriction on any food item.
Q. Can I continue smoking?
A. You must stop smoking for better control of asthma and a healthy long life. Smoking is the greatest enemy of your lungs. You should avoid even being around other smokers.

Importantly, one must not let asthma control one’s life activities. You should be able to lead a normal and active life with appropriate use of controller and reliever medications. You must win over your asthma!