Asthma is a classified as a reversible constriction of the airway due to an excessive response to a variety of stimulus. This is caused by your body’s own immune cells to react and increase mucus production in the airways causing it to reduce in size. When this happens, the person has difficulty in breathing out and leads to air to be trapped in the lungs. This problem affects roughly 20% of children in Singapore as quoted by Singhealth.

The signs and symptoms that associate with asthma attack includes

  • shortness of breath,
  • coughing,
  • wheezing,
  • chest tightness

which occurs more commonly during the night time or early hours of the morning. The attack could last from minutes to hours and is usually treated with inhalers that relax the airway.

Factors That Trigger Asthma

There are various common triggers that might induce an attack, however, is not always possible to be discovered. The common triggers include

  • allergies,
  • air pollution,
  • dust,
  • exercise,
  • cold dry air,
  • viral respiratory infection and
  • certain drugs.

Clinical Diagnosis

Diagnosis is usually done clinically which means it is based on the history and examination by the doctor and special tests are not routinely required. However, they may be used in cases where there are doubts about the diagnosis. It is not a curable disease but can be controlled with the proper therapies and patients are able to lead a normal life. Patients are usually fine and healthy in between attacks as well and depending on the frequency of the attacks, the therapy would be stepped up or down to ensure there is adequate control of the disease.

2 main group of medication that is used to control symptoms.

  • Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are used to treat the attack by relaxing the airways and widening it allowing air to flow.

  • Preventers

While the preventers which are usually steroid based are used to reduce the response of the immune cells and prevent an attack from occurring and needs to be taken regularly even if the child has not had any attacks recently as it acts to prevent such attacks from occurring.

Asthma can be fatal if left untreated during an attack or if help is not sought after in time when treatment is not at an adequate level. Statistics show that 2.6 in 100 000 people per year die from the attack taken from (HealthGrove).

Common things that can be done to prevent attacks would be to keep homes clean and dust free. Avoid outdoor activities during the haze period which could induce an attack and should any family member smoke it would be best for them to stop smoking if that is not possible then smoking outside the house and away from the children should be done at the very least. Taking medication prescribed by your doctor regularly even when the child has not had an attack recently is important in preventing such attacks.

Author: Dr. Shuy Yao Jie,

MB Bachelor of Surgery (BCh), Bachelor of Obstetrics (BAO)