It is known that a person treated for asthma can lead a normal life. So what happens to those patients who are untreated? Luckily many of them do not suffer from severe asthma but end up visiting the hospitals frequently when asthma flares. However, in rare cases, you can suffer serious medical problems making it even more difficult to control asthma. The dangers of untreated asthma are troublesome both in terms of health and financial perspective. They can range from lifestyle disruptions to even long hospital stays and deaths. The following are the worst case scenarios.
Sleep disturbance: Some asthmatic patients exhibit their symptoms especially during night times. If this continues, it can lead to sleep deprivation which can impact your ability to work efficiently at the office or school. This can be more dangerous, if you have to drive to your office or work with heavy machinery.
Physical inactivity: Asthma patients cannot perform certain exercises as it can lead to the exacerbation of the symptoms. The lungs become so bad that they cannot allow you to get the exercise you need. This lack of physical activity can turn you obese and increase your risk for other health conditions. Deprivation from physical activity can increase the risk of psychological distress in a few.
Poor performance: Your daily performance gets negatively affected with uncontrolled asthma. Most of the children are found to miss days at school due to uncontrolled asthma. Their academic performance gets compromised.
A person who is not cautious in managing asthma may feel stressed of his/her disease, and this can worsen the situation, making it more difficult to treat asthma.
When you have the initial symptoms of asthma, and you miss taking the medications, it may lead to more severe attacks requiring hospitalization. The symptoms which indicate that you need an emergency care include extreme difficulty in breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty in walking or talking, bluish coloration of the skin.
Asthma undiagnosed or untreated aggressively with medicines can lead to an increased risk of lung scarring. This is a permanent damage to your lungs and airways, and you cannot breathe properly forever unless with an external aid. This stage of asthma is irreversible i.e. it cannot be reversed with medications. It is considered as the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The possible permanent changes include thickening of airways, increased mucus production, and increased blood flow to airways.
A complete respiratory failure can occur with severe attacks of asthma. The airways get shut, and the rescue medications do not work any longer to open them up. This can lead to death, if immediate treatment is not made available.
You think your asthma is under control?
Most of the asthmatic patients do not realize that their condition has worsened unless they are admitted to the emergency ward. They think that they are alright as long as they are regularly using their rescue medication when needed. In reality, even if the asthma is silent, i.e. without any coughing or wheezing, or breathing difficulty, there can be the presence of lung inflammation. Asthma patients get used to the breathing difficulty and stop focusing on it over a period.
If you have persistent asthma, but you treat it only during the attacks, then you are not controlling it properly. Taking controller medication is important to reduce the inflammation and mucus production, thereby healing the lungs which is highly important so that you won’t suffer from untreated asthma. Controller medication opens up the airways making it easy for you to breath. Just 60 seconds of inhalation with asthma pump can provide you relief for several hours or even days.
Signs which indicate a poorly controlled asthma
- Shortness of breath during exercise, or even during your routine activities
- Coughing at night times which disturbs your sleep
- Coughing from a cold which lasts longer than a week
- History of hospitalization or need for emergency care
- Rescue medication required more than two times in a month
Importance of early treatment
It is very crucial to get treated for asthma as early as possible. Aggressive treatment is the way to go for, and it really works. There are two main types of medications to manage asthma.
Quick-relief medications swiftly reduce the muscle constriction in the airways and provide you an instant relief for easier breathing. It is available usually in the form of an inhaler and can be used during the asthma attacks.
Long-term medications reduce the inflammation preventing the closure of the airways. These medications should be used on a daily basis to prevent the symptoms. They are not much useful during an attack as they act slowly and cannot treat the symptoms. They are available both as inhalers (which are more preferred) and as pills.
Additionally, it is important to stay away from the irritants or allergens which can trigger your asthma.
Asthma is a serious disease, but a timely intervention can help you to lead a normal life. Although there is no cure for asthma, a strict adherence to right medication can avoid the triggers. Don’t get caught unaware of asthma. Do not feel lazy or refuse to see your doctor when you have asthmatic symptoms. Don’t be a bad asthmatic patient in forgetting to take your medications! A proper preventive care and attention to treatment are highly important to avoid the severe complications with asthma.