Asthma is a breathing problem that affects the airways in the lungs. What happens is that the airways react to certain substances, known as irritants and become inflamed and narrow making breathing difficult. This may also lead to extra mucus secretion by the lining of the airways, which further tends to narrow the airways. The common symptoms of asthma are:
Shortness of breath or Breathlessness: You feel like you can’t get enough air in or out of your lungs, and find it especially difficult to breathe out.
Frequent or persistent cough: You have a cough that doesn’t go away for many days, and you find that you often cough at night or after exercising.
Wheezing: You hear a whistling sound every time you breathe out.
Tightness in the chest: You get a tight feeling in the chest, like someone is squeezing or sitting on your chest.
There’s no need to hold yourself back from having a normal, active life. So, is asthma continuous or does it come and go? There is a condition called seasonal asthma, wherein your symptoms may get worse during one season, and may not show up during another. This creates a misconception that asthma is a condition that just comes and goes, with no apparent reason. However, asthma stays with you for a long time. But once you get to know more about asthma, it is not that difficult to manage asthma and anticipate and prevent an asthma attack. Each person’s asthma is different from the others. The most important thing you need to remember is that there are many people like you, who are successfully managing asthma. The World Health Organization has found that over 300 million people around the world have asthma, of which 37.8 million are in India. So, it is a common condition, and you are certainly not alone.
While, unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma, modern medicine has made it possible to control the symptoms completely, so that you can almost forget you have asthma. Hence, there’s no need to hold yourself back from having a normal, active life just because you have asthma. There are many prominent personalities in the film industry, the business world, and even in the field of sports who have asthma but it has not stopped them from living a fulfilling life.
COPD (or Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease) is a lung problem with blockage in the air tubes which carry air in and out of your lungs. Your air tubes become narrower, so the amount of air that can go in is much less. Also, air cannot get out of your lungs properly. Because of this your lungs feel very full, your chest feels tight, and you feel short of breath. All this makes breathing difficult, and if not taken care of, can get worse with time.
You may not experience symptoms of COPD in the early stages of the disease. By the time clear symptoms show up, it may have already damaged your lungs. Sometimes, symptoms may be mistaken for other diseases or aging. So, it is important to watch out for symptoms of COPD specially if you are at high risk of COPD. The most common ones include:
Occasional shortness of breath/ breathlessness, especially after exercise
Long-lasting or recurrent cough
Mucus (phlegm) production
The above symptoms worsen with time. If not treated early, COPD may cause breathlessness while doing simple tasks such as getting dressed and eating. Sometimes, breathing takes an extra effort and you may find that you’re losing weight and getting weaker.
COPD sounds scary but it can be tackled so don’t worry. With proper treatment and medication, you can manage COPD and improve the quality of your life. This way, you can keep doing everything you enjoy – from hiking to dancing to travelling. There’s another important thing to remember about COPD – it’s not contagious, so you won’t get COPD just because you stay in the company of someone who is suffering from it.