Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. Environmental factors, both indoor and outdoor, play a major role in triggering and sustaining asthma symptoms with continuous exposure. Symptoms improve with cessation of exposure to pollutants and allergens.
Main indoor triggers (allergens) are house dust & mites, animal dander (cat, dog, rodents), cockroach and mold (fungal) spores. Outdoor pollutants include industrial smog (sulphur dioxide particulate complex) and photochemical smog (ozone, nitrogen dioxide).
Asthma presents with cough, wheezing, and breathlessness. All symptoms may not be present simultaneously. Some asthmatics perceive asthma symptoms poorly. This poor perception of symptoms in some asthmatics leads sometimes to near fatal attacks of asthma. Such patients benefit from home Peak Flow monitoring, asthma education and open door policy/easy access by the caregiver.
Clinically, treatment of asthma depends on careful assessment of patients symptoms along with clinical examination, spirometry (lung functions), peak flow and exhaled NO (nitric oxide) monitoring. Bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory medicines mainly in form of inhaler/nebulizer are tailored to a patient’s asthma severity staging.
Patient education about asthma, asthma medications, home monitoring of asthma control is a powerful tool in controlling asthma. Recent advances in patient education make use of mobile health and interactive learning, which in turn also encourages a strong patient-doctor partnership in the management of bronchial asthma.