Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the airways in the lungs. When the airways come in contact with substances known as asthma triggers, they become inflamed, filled with excess mucus and the muscles around them tighten, making the airways narrower and difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs.
The reason why some people get asthma and others do not is not clear. However, research has attributed developing asthma to a combination of environmental and genetic (inherited) factors. Asthma is most commonly developed as a child, however asthma can also be developed in adulthood. Men who had asthma as children may see symptoms return at an older age.
Asthma symptoms vary from man to man.
The symptoms of asthma include persistent coughing (mostly at night), wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. A sudden onset or worsening of asthma symptoms is known as an “asthma attack”.
Several factors can cause or aggravate asthma symptoms in men. The common asthma triggers include dust, smoke, pollen, extreme temperatures, strong odours and animal dander. Other factors that can affect asthma include:
• Stress: Periods of stress and anxiety can create strong physiological reactions in the body which can worsen symptoms.
• Tobacco smoking – Smoking can lead to more asthma symptoms, more frequent asthma attacks, worse asthma control and less benefit from some asthma medications. Smoking also damages the airways, leading to inflammation and faster loss of lung function.
• Alcohol: Some beers and wine contain high levels of histamine, the chemical our bodies make during allergic reactions. In some men, the histamine in alcohol may trigger asthma symptoms.
• Obesity: Obesity as a major risk factor for developing asthma and can also worsen asthma symptoms and make them more difficult manage.
• Exercise: While exercise is important to maintain healthy lifestyle, over exertion during exercise can trigger asthma symptoms.
• Nature of Job: Exposure to substances at the work place such as chemicals used in manufacturing, gases, smoke, paints, cleaning products, wood dust, grain and flour, latex gloves, certain moulds, animals and insects can cause asthma or worsen existing asthma.
If you have recently noticed any asthma symptoms, it is important to see a doctor who will make a diagnosis of asthma as necessary based on lung function tests, symptoms and medical history. Treating asthma early may prevent long-term lung damage and help keep the condition from worsening over time. There are many effective medicines to treat asthma including controller medication used to prevent symptoms by reducing airway inflammation and reliever medication used to quickly relax and open the airways and relieve symptoms. Medication will be prescribed by the doctor based on the severity of asthma.
To manage asthma, it is important to know and avoid asthma triggers as much as possible and use medication as prescribed by the doctor. You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.
Although asthma has no cure, with proper education, treatment and management, you can lead full, active lives just like any other man!
Author: Oyindamola Jaiyesimi
The credit for this educational posting goes to the CEO of Oluwakemi Memorial Foundation (for Children Living with Asthma in Africa), Oluwadamola JAIYESIMI.
Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/OluwakemiMemorialFoundation/
N.B. Illustrations added by site admin, and all illustrations courtesy of their respective copyrights owners.