What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that makes breathing difficult. With asthma, there is inflammation of the air passages that results in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs. This results in asthma symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. If it is severe, asthma can result in decreased activity and inability to talk. Some people refer to asthma as "bronchial asthma."
Asthma symptoms can vary from episode to episode in the same child. Signs and symptoms of asthma to look for include: Frequent coughing spells, which may occur during play, at nighttime, or while laughing. It's important to know that coughing with asthma may be the only symptom present. Less energy during play, or pausing to catch breath during play Rapid or shallow breathing
Complaint of chest tightness or chest "hurting"
Whistling sound when breathing in or out. This whistling sound is called wheezing. Seesaw motions in the chest from laboured breathing. These motions are called retractions. Shortness of breath, loss of breath
Tightened neck and chest muscles
Feelings of weakness or tiredness
Asthma Causes and Triggers
People with asthma have very sensitive airways that react to many different things in the environment called "asthma triggers." Contact with these triggers cause asthma symptoms to start or worsen. The following are common triggers for asthma: Infections such as sinusitis, colds, and flu
Allergens such as pollens, mold spores, pet dander, and dust mites Irritants such as strong odors from perfumes or cleaning solutions, and air pollution Tobacco smoke
Exercise (known as exercise-induced asthma)
Weather; changes in temperature and/or humidity, cold air
Strong emotions such as anxiety, laughter or crying, stress Medications, such as aspirin-sensitive asthma
An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of symptoms. With an asthma attack, your airways tighten, swell up, or fill with mucus. Common symptoms include: Coughing, especially at night
Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound when breathing out) Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
Chest tightness, pain, or pressure
Not every person with asthma experiences the same symptoms of an asthma attack. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your symptoms may be subtle, such as decreased activity, or lethargy. Your symptoms may also vary from mild to severe from one asthma attack to the next.
Choking occurs when a foreign object becomes lodged in the throat or windpipe, blocking the flow of air. In adults, a piece of food often is the culprit. Young children often swallow small objects. Because choking cuts off oxygen to the brain, administer first aid as quickly as possible. The universal sign for choking is hands clutched to the throat. If the person doesn't give the signal, look for these indications: Inability to talk
Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing
Inability to cough forcefully
Skin, lips and nails turning blue or dusky
Loss of consciousness
If choking is occurring, the Red Cross recommends a "five-and-five" approach to delivering first aid: Give 5 back blows. First, deliver five back blows between the person's shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. Give 5 abdominal thrusts. Perform five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver). Alternate between 5 blows and 5 thrusts until the blockage is dislodged. The American Heart Association doesn't teach the back blow technique, only the abdominal thrust procedures. It's OK not to use back blows, if you haven't learned the technique. Both approaches are acceptable. To perform abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) on someone else: Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly. Make a fist with one hand. Position it...
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