Asthma is a common disease of the respiratory system. It comes from the Greek word 'aazein', or 'sharp breath'. Allergens, common cold or even other triggers like exercise or stress can cause the airways or the tubes that carry air to the lungs. These become narrow and inflamed, with the build up of excessive mucous and breathing becomes a problem. A distinct wheeze can be heard during the entire cycle of respiration.

The asthma patient will be coughing and panting during inhalation with an uncomfortable tightening of the chest. It strikes patients more at night and in the morning, so sleeplessness is often a factor that adds to the discomfort. Some chronic asthma patients become hypersensitive to stimulants like strong smells, pollens or even pollutants. Some of the other triggers of asthma are dust mites, cockroaches, and even some pathogens. Sleep apnea is said to be one of the factors causing asthma.

In some cases a patient taking bronchoconstrictor medicines, like beta-blockers or some hypertension medication, which could trigger severe breathing problems. In these cases, asthma attacks can be sudden and even life-threatening. Today across the world, asthma has become the most prevalent disease.

The clinical conditions of asthma make it an easy to diagnose disease; however, one must understand that there is no cure for it. Asthma cannot be totally cured, but with treatment it can be controlled and an individual can lead a good life. Modern medicine has ensured that there are many ways to control it. These cures are often used in conjunction with the ancient science of Yoga, especially 'pranayama' or its highly evolved breathing practices.

One of the most essential treatments of asthma is of course removing the triggers that cause asthma. Long-term infections would need to be cured, and the underlying causes of asthma clearly understood. Rigorous efforts of cleaning the home from dust mites, and other pest like cockroaches will have to be undertaken. Mattresses would have to be changed, it is best to use the newer types that do not collect dust mites. The house would have to be made insect and dust proofed.

Anyone who suffers from asthma would have to ensure that he or she is well guarded against triggers like pollens, strong smells, pollutants and more. Sleep apnea will have to cured, this may require surgery, and medicines will have to be examined to understand whether any of these are responsible for the sudden asthma attacks. Anyone smoking is advised to give up the habit, as it can increase the frequency of the attack.

There is a range of instant relief bronchodilators available in pocket-sized, metered-dose inhalers. This can be used with an 'asthma spacer' to get a full dose; this is a plastic cylinder that is especially useful for children. Some of the most common bronchodilators are beta2-adrenoceptor agonists, such as salbutamol, levalbuterol, terbutaline and bitolterol. These improve the lung capacity immensely. Though they may be side effects, thus a full medical history has to be understood before any of these medicines are prescribed.

In case the asthma attack is unmanageable and the patient is unable to breathe a nebulizer, providing a continuous dose is used. The medicine is an easy to inhale saline solution and administered through vapor. In case of severe asthma, hospitalization is required, and the patient may need oxygen for a while, along with a wide range of relief medications and antibiotics to cure infections if any.

There is an increasing tendency to turn to alternative practices to manage asthma. Yoga offers the most effective solutions. Pranayama or the life breath, is a method to understand the importance of the breath and use it to optimum. These exercises help in the management asthma. The inhalation and exhalation practices help clear the air passages and bring in a fresh inflow of oxygen. This science has to be learned from a well-regarded teacher.

Acupressure and Acupuncture also helps in better asthma management. These need to be administered by registered practitioners, as they are specific forms of treatment.

Though one has to live with asthma, there are many ways in ensuring it does not come in the way of getting the most out of life.
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