Different Types and Causes of Asthma
Asthma, the chronic occurrence of respiratory tract inflammation, is a common affliction among Americans, but it’s not necessarily one that’s simple to understand. “Asthma” without modifiers is simply a blanket term of a number of breathing difficulties. There are subsets of asthma that require a closer look to gain a deeper understanding. Here’s a look at some of the different types and causes of asthma and how you may go about treating them.
Common environmental and domestic allergens, such as mold, pollen, pet dander, dust, and cigarette smoke, can trigger an immunological response, particularly the immunoglobulin E antibody, or IgE. Once sent into action, IgE can cause inflammation in the airways; this blockage is what leads to an asthma attack.
Allergic reactions are the most common causes of asthma attacks, which means there are many avenues of treatment. You can treat allergic asthma’s symptoms or causes with anything as simple as over-the-counter antihistamines to complex new biologic drugs that rewire your immune system to prevent overreactions to common allergens. The frequency and severity of your attacks will determine the best course of action.
An arguable subsection of allergic asthma is one whose attacks are of a strictly seasonal nature. Since environmental factors that subside with the changing of the seasons often trigger asthma, we can understand seasonal asthma to be a milder version of year-round allergic asthma, which often arises from allergens found in the home. Usually, over-the-counter medication and reduced exposure to allergens can take care of most seasonal attacks, though an inhaler may be necessary as well.
Working alongside chemical irritants can trigger asthma attacks even in people whose breathing has never been an issue before. Chemicals prevalent in the oil and gas industries, such as ammonia and sulfur dioxide, are likely to irritate the respiratory tract. A telltale sign of occupational asthma is that breathing issues subside after working hours, betraying exposure to chemical fumes and particulates as the cause of the asthma. Early diagnosis and intervention in occupational asthma is crucial to preventing long-term damage to the lungs and airways.
In the absence of allergens, strenuous and sustained exercise can also trigger an asthma attack. Typically, a workout session lasting over an hour can put someone at risk of suffering shortness of breath. However, an important distinction to make with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction among the different types and causes of asthma is that exercise is not a cause itself—rather, it’s one factor among many that can cause breathing difficulties among people with asthma.