What is asthma?
Asthma is a disease caused by inflammation of the bronchi. It affects almost 5% of the population. It is a chronic disease that appears in seizures during which the person has difficulty breathing, breathlessness, and wheezing. These breathing problems may stop spontaneously or through treatment. In an asthmatic person, the bronchi are abnormally sensitive to certain factors such as exercise, cold, cigarette smoke or allergens. During an asthma attack, bronchial tubes become inflamed, contract and produce mucus. This no longer allows the air to circulate well in the lungs.
causes of asthma
The causes of asthma are multiple. Asthma comes from the combination of a genetic predisposition to allergy (also called “atopy”) and environmental factors (allergens, pollution …) that will promote its appearance. Our lungs are sensitive to different agents, such as pollen, air pollution or powerful chemicals. People with asthma have lungs that are more sensitive than average.
Genetic factors are important in the development mechanism of asthma. But even if there is often a family predisposition to the onset of asthma, the transmission of asthma from parents to their children is not automatic. Asthma is not an inherited disease because there is no single gene responsible.
The environment in which we live is an essential factor for the appearance of clinical signs but only in case of allergic asthma. Indeed, asthma is partly an allergic response. It can be triggered by an external substance in your environment that is particularly irritating to your lungs. These triggers are often small particles of proteins: allergens. Some people are sensitive to several allergens. The most common are: pollen, mildew, dust, animal hair etc … Please avoid them to the maximum. Air pollution also promotes or aggravates the manifestations of asthma. During peaks of pollution, avoid efforts, especially the practice of outdoor sports.
Finally, psyche plays a certain but relative role on asthma attacks, especially in children. It is common to see asthma attacks caused by annoyances, academic or family difficulties, strong emotions.
The symptoms of asthma
For some people, the symptoms of asthma go unnoticed. If your asthma is asymptomatic, then respiratory tests are needed to detect the disease. When they are not or poorly treated, the symptoms can be fatal. Hence the importance of a diagnosis and a fast and effective care. It is :
–The attack of acute shortness of breath: This is the most common symptom. The first signs are sometimes discreet (tingling in the throat, runny nose, sneezing, dry cough, etc.). The crisis is often manifested following physical exertion or contact with the allergen. Indeed, the air is difficult to pass through the bronchi of the person with asthma.
– Difficulty breathing: During the crisis, breathing is hampered by bronchial spasm. You can hear a whistling breathing. This whistling corresponds to the passage of air in pipes (bronchi) tightened. Expiration becomes difficult and requires more and more effort. A feeling of tightness in the chest can also be felt.
– Dry cough: Some asthmatics have only a chronic cough that is mainly present at bedtime or following physical exertion. These fifths of asthma cough tend to bring back pearl and viscous spittle.
diagnosis of asthma
The vast majority of asthma patients have no abnormalities when a chest X-ray is performed. To diagnose asthma and measure its importance, your doctor will first of all have to know your allergic antecedents. It will be based on the precise description of your symptoms (daily shortness of breath, wheezing, dry cough), the circumstances in which these events appear, their seniority and their frequency. Knowledge will make it easier to pose the correct diagnosis. If he deems it necessary, he will ask you for a series of tests including: Respiratory Function Tests (EFR), a skin allergy test, a lung function test and a provocation test. These tests help the doctor to make the diagnosis of the disease by objectively measuring the respiratory capacity, and to determine the risk of allergies. If these tests are positive and typical symptoms occur, the diagnosis of asthma is very likely.
Asthma and sport activities
Many children with asthma do not practice sports because their parents think that physical activities are not recommended, it is a serious mistake. If being asthmatic can be disabling, This does not prevent the practice of a sport. Dalleurs, many Olympic champions are asthmatic, that does not prevent them from practicing a sport of high level. The secret of these athletes: a good knowledge of their disease, a lot of motivation and training, but above all a rigorous adoption of good reflexes so that sport and asthma are a successful marriage. Regular exercise improves lung capacity and bronchial dilatation and gradually reduces the onset of exercise-related asthma. Also, sport can allow everyone, whatever their age, to improve their quality of life and reduce stress.
We recommend endurance sports (hiking, biking, jogging, cross-country skiing, tennis, dancing). It’s up to you to choose the one you like the most. Warm up gradually for several minutes before exercising (especially when it is cold). Preferably do sports accompanied, it is always more enjoyable to do the sport with someone than alone. However, we strongly discourage intense team sports (rugby, basketball, hockey, etc.). They require sudden efforts and can provoke asthma attacks. Avoid categorically diving. This is the only formally forbidden sport for asthmatics. The risk of a seizure is important in diving, because the compressed air in the bottle is cold and totally dry, which favors the attack in asthmatic patients.
Our advice for athletes with asthma
People with asthma need to pay more attention than others when they play sports because a crisis can occur at any time. We advise you to:
– Ask your doctor for advice. It remains essential to seek medical advice before starting a new sport. You must ask your doctor and tell him about your fears or possible discomfort. He will accompany you in this challenge and guide you to the sport that suits you best.
-You must take your prescribed protective medication 10 to 15 minutes before the sport.
-Heat slowly before starting the sport. Do not start abruptly. Let your body adapt gradually.
– Take into account climatic conditions: A cold and dry weather is unfavorable to the sports practice of an asthmatic, because it generates crises more easily. If the weather is too windy, too dry or too cold, drop it. You must wear appropriate clothing to avoid getting cold.
-Check that the asthma is well balanced: Before playing sports, it is recommended to measure your breath before and after exercise thanks to the peak flow meter. The measurements obtained make it possible to judge if your state of health allows you to play sports this day. If this is not the case, give up or wait a bit.
-When you feel tired, stop. Do not go beyond your limits. There is absolutely no point in taking unnecessary risks.
Asthma and pregnancy
You are pregnant and have asthma. Do not worry, your pregnancy is not particularly at risk, but you need to take some precautions. The evolution of asthma in pregnant women is not predictable. During pregnancy, asthma improves in one third of women with asthma, remains stable in another third and worsens for the last third of expectant mothers. In pregnant women with asthma especially if their spouse is also, preventive measures are recommended, namely:
-A pregnant woman must stop smoking
-The future mother must have her inhaler always on her, avoid all the triggers of an asthma attack. At the slightest sign of worsening of her asthma, decreased respiratory function, she will have to consult her doctor.
In practice, the usual drugs used for asthma are the same as outside of pregnancy. Only adrenaline is contraindicated.
-The consumption of allergenic foods such as peanut is not recommended during the pregnancy of an asthmatic woman.
-The feeding of your baby should not be diversified too quickly.
-Never stop treatment for asthma during pregnancy.
-For more security, the doctor will ask you to check if your asthma is well balanced using a peak flow meter.
-To reduce the risk of asthma developing in your child, it is advisable not to smoke in his presence, take measures against allergens and avoid having a pet.