Asthma is one of the most common respiratory conditions. It generally affects the lungs and can make breathing difficult for those who have it. But can asthma actually damage your lungs? And what happens when you leave asthma untreated?
What Is Asthma?
Before we get into the effects of asthma, we must first understand what the condition actually is. Asthma happens as a result of the respiratory tract overreacting to certain stimuli. During an acute asthma attack, the mucus membrane becomes inflamed. When it swells up, it will produce thick excess mucus that is difficult to expel. The smooth muscles in your airways also tighten. This causes bronchospasms, constricting the airway.
Aside from shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, asthma will also have other symptoms. An asthmatic person can experience coughing, especially during the night. They may also have a hard time sleeping because they find it difficult to breathe. Wheezing is also another symptom of asthma and can come in the form of whistling sounds while breathing. Lastly, asthma can also cause pain due to the pressure or tightness around the chest.
Does Asthma Have Any Long-Term Effects?
Chronic inflammation and bronchospasms from asthma can have long-term effects on your airways. In particular, the structural changes can lead to a permanently narrowed airway. When the airway tubes thicken and become scarred, breathing can become more difficult. And when the bronchial muscles get enlarged, it can result in reduced lung function.
There is also an increased risk of bronchial infections when you have asthma. Your sleep quality will also be affected, potentially leading to sleep deprivation. And when your asthma is severe, you’ll have a higher risk of respiratory failure.
Why You Should Treat Asthma
Asthma is unfortunately chronic and cannot be healed. However, you can control it with the right treatments and lifestyle changes. If you receive appropriate treatment for your asthma, you can potentially reduce inflammation and prevent permanent damage to your lungs and airways. Treatment can also reduce the frequency and intensity of your asthma attacks.
On the other hand, if you leave your asthma untreated, it can become progressively worse. In some cases, untreated asthma can result in long-term complications and damage the respiratory system. However, with early and aggressive treatment, you may be able to prevent irreversible damage to your lungs as a result of your asthma.
How to Prevent Permanent Damage to the Lungs
As previously mentioned, early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent damages to the respiratory system. But aside from that, there are also other ways you can lessen the risk of these long-term complications.
For one, make sure you diligently follow your treatment plan. Just because you don’t show symptoms doesn’t mean you should stop taking your medications. Always consult with your doctor first when it comes to changes in your medications.
It’s also best to have your lungs regularly checked so your doctor can monitor your condition. You can also get flu and pneumonia vaccinations to help protect yourself from infections. And when you can no longer keep your condition under control, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical help.
Lifestyle changes can also help prevent permanent damage to your lungs. Make sure you stay active and exercise regularly. Also, it’s best to avoid smoking in any way you can. This includes staying away from a person that is smoking to avoid inhalation of second-hand smoke.
While asthma may be incurable, you can still control your condition by getting the appropriate treatment. When you leave your asthma untreated, it can lead to long-term complications and permanent damage to the lungs. So, it’s best to get early and aggressive treatment to prevent any irreversible damages to your respiratory system.
Treat your asthma with the help of a primary care doctor from Garden State Medical Group. Our board-certified physicians and specialists practice multidisciplinary integrative and functional medicine with a focus on prevention, management, and education. This allows us to treat the whole person, including the biological, clinical, and behavioral aspects. Start a telemedicine call now!