Asthma - Medical Malpractice LawyersLEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
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Asthma - Medical Malpractice
Asthma is a condition in which there is inflammation of the bronchial tree of the lungs that results in attacks of shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. The main cause of asthma is inflammation. When an asthma attack happens, the smooth muscle around the bronchial tree becomes tight and the lining of the airways swells so that the effective passage of air through the airways is minimized.
Asthma can be caused by an allergy to pet dander or pet hair, dust, chemicals you eat or breathe in, changes in weather (especially cold, windy weather), exercise, allergies to pollen, respiratory infections, stress and other strong emotions and tobacco smoke. Certain medications, like aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can trigger an asthma attack in sensitive individuals. Having a family history or allergies and asthma gives you a higher risk of having asthma yourself.
Asthma symptoms usually don't happen all the time. Some people can have long term shortness of breath with episodes of normal breathing in between. Wheezing or cough can predominate. Others can have brief periods of asthma symptoms and be symptom free for a long time.
The main symptoms include cough with sputum production or a dry cough, intercostal retractions, which mean you are working hard to breathe, shortness of breath, wheezing which comes in episodes that may be worse at night or in the early morning hours, gets better using bronchodilators, is worse with exercise, begins suddenly and is worse with breathing cold air or having heartburn.
If asthma becomes a medical emergency, the main symptoms are present including cyanosis of the lips and face (a bluish tinge to the skin), decreased level of consciousness, rapid pulse, extreme problems breathing and sweating. Related symptoms include chest pain, nasal flaring and breathing that takes longer to breathe out than to breathe in. The breathing can temporarily stop and there can be tightness in the chest.
Common allergens can be tested for to see whether or not an allergy is the cause of the problem include testing for dust mites, cockroaches, moulds, pet dander and pollens. Doctors test for fumes from burning wood or gas, tobacco smoke or pollution. The doctor will also listen for wheezing using a stethoscope and may check arterial blood gases and do an x-ray of the lungs, which often looks normal or can show hyperinflation of the chest. Lung function studies are breathing tests that can show the flow of air through the airways. Peak flow measurements can be quick ways to identify how severe the asthma is.
The treatment of asthma depends on how severe the symptoms are. One must first avoid any triggers that make asthma worse. This can be all that it takes. Many people are prescribed a rescue inhaler containing a beta agonist. It works within seconds in order to open up the airways. Another goal of asthma is to reduce the airway inflammation. Inhaled or oral corticosteroids are used to reduce the inflammation of the bronchial tubes. These are used on a daily basis or during exacerbations and do not work well as rescue medications. Control drugs are used every day for those who have moderate to severe asthma. Quick relief drugs are not designed to be necessary every day but can be used as often as necessary to open the airways. Quick relief drugs can be used via an inhaler or a nebulizer that is a machine that forces humidified medication into the airways and works for severe asthma. Besides corticosteroids, they make long acting bronchodilators that can be taken once or twice a day for asthma relief. Other drugs include leukotriene inhibitors such as Singulair and Accolate. Cromolyn sodium can be used on a regular basis and a new medication called Xolair is used to block an inflammation pathway in the lungs. In rare cases, Theophylline is used to control asthma symptoms.
You can use rescue drugs before exercise or before being exposed to known allergens. If you need to use rescue inhalers more often than twice per seek, you may need to be on daily control medications. In severe cases of asthma, you need to be hospitalized and receive IV fluids, IV steroids and oxygen to maximize the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here