Asthma can be partly hereditary both for the disease and for a possible cause: allergy (allergic asthma). The likelihood of becoming asthmatic, therefore, increases in proportion to the number of asthmatics present in the family. About 50% of asthmatics recognize allergy to inhalants as the cause: pollen, mite derivatives, animals, etc.
The asthmatic has hyperactive bronchi: a stimulus (allergens, irritants, exhaust gases, dust, strong odors, smoke, sudden changes in temperature or humidity, physical exertion, etc.), which in non-asthmatic people does not create problems, can trigger an asthma crisis.
The main test for diagnosing asthma is spirometry. If spirometry demonstrates obstruction of the bronchi, it is necessary to check whether a bronchodilator can improve the disorder, thus performing a bronchial dilation test. If at the time of the examination the respiratory function was normal, the diagnostic suspicion should be checked with a bronchostimulation test (inhalation of increasing doses of a bronchial irritant to check if they tend to overreact).
The diagnosis then needs to be refined with the search for the triggering cause. The research will be directed by the clinical history, after which allergy tests can be performed by means of skin tests and / or research of specific immunoglobulins (antibodies). In some cases, further investigation is required such as specific provocation tests or elimination tests (refraining from contact with agents suspected as a cause of asthma).
It is known that exposure to automobile exhaust fumes, especially diesel, can facilitate the onset of asthma.
Once the disease has been diagnosed, it is necessary to carry out the prescribed therapy regularly, adjusting the intensity of treatment based on the symptoms, in coordination with your doctor or specialist.
It is necessary to prevent infections such as flu or pneumonia, using appropriate vaccines, avoid exposure to irritants (primarily tobacco smoke), lead a healthy life with regular nutrition and good physical activity.
It is extremely important to agree with the specialist the most suitable type of therapy, also taking into consideration the mode of intake (inhaler, with or without spacer) and planning the possible administration of drugs in the event of an exacerbation.
The drugs used are:
- Short-acting bronchodilators, to be used as needed in case of mild forms or exacerbations.
- Long-acting inhaled corticosteroids. Corticosteroids can, however, facilitate the appearance of candidiasis (thrush) and therefore it is advisable to rinse the mouth by gargle after administration.
- Long-acting bronchodilators, always to be used in combination with inhaled corticosteroids.
Medicines by mouth, such as leukotriene antagonists or theophylline (less effective than the drugs listed above).
Inhaled drugs are administered in doses such that absorption is minimal and side effects are generally negligible.