Do you have asthma? Are you suffering from severe or recurrent attacks? If yes, then you are likely suffering from a type of respiratory illness called brittle asthma.
Asthma in general is well-known and there are thousands of information about the disease online. However, brittle asthma is not getting too much attention compared to other types of asthma.
Unknown to many, brittle asthma is as dangerous or even more complicated compared to other asthmatic conditions. Read on to learn more about this chronic disease.
What is Brittle Asthma?
Brittle asthma is a rare and highly severe form of asthma. It is distinguishable by recurrent and totally severe asthmatic attacks.
Some experts are considering brittle asthma as a separate disease from asthma, due to its different characteristics plus having its own sub-types. This respiratory illness is divided into two – Type 1 and Type 2 brittle asthma subtypes.
Any sufferer can fall either into these two subtypes, which both have its own separate symptoms. Common symptoms of asthma includes shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness.
Lets take a deeper look into these two subtypes.
Type 1 Brittle Asthma
Type 1 is the origin of brittle asthma, not until the second one was distinguished. It is characterized by sustained, chronic vairability of peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR).
People with type 1 brittle asthma suffers almost every day, it’s like your life-long companion. This is the reason why it is branded as a severe chronic condition which can literally interfere with your life.
Attacks from this subtype is so severe, which can be very deadly if you are caught off-guard. Because of this, type 1 sufferers are prone to hospital admissions, making them a lot like disabled individuals.
Type 2 Brittle Asthma
This type is the exact opposite of type 1 brittle asthma but similarly a severe case. This subtype is distinguishable by sudden and unpredictable drops in peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR).
Type 2 is however, a controlled asthma compared to type one. The symptoms are manageable and the lungs is not impaired. While this type is controllable, occasional but severe and life threatening attacks can occur suddenly without warning signs.
If the condition is completely severe, it will also require hospital admission and will be provided by high doses of medicinal treatments.
Symptoms of Brittle Asthma
All asthma sufferers have a characteristics of inflamed and constricted bronchial airways, which causes the tightness of chest and breathing difficulty.
However, symptoms of brittle asthma are more severe, chronic and difficult to treat because the disease are not responding well to medicinal treatments.
This is the reason why the term “brittle” is referred to this asthma condition, due to its unpredictable attacks that makes an individual so susceptible to its health risks.
To give you a clear view on brittle asthma’s symptoms, below are its differences from usual asthma disease.
- Extreme and consistent asthma attacks
- Severe asthma symptoms
- Unpredictable onset of acute attacks
- Life-interfering disease
In most cases, brittle asthmatic patients are closely monitored by their own physician, chest expert or a respiratory nurse.
Causes of Brittle Asthma
The exact cause of brittle asthma is not yet conclusive and several factors are considered to be risk factors, which are quite similar to regular asthma.
Most experts are looking on genetics as well as environmental factors which can trigger an asthma attack. These factors includes:
- Family history
- Tendency to develop allergies (atopy)
- Childhood respiratory infections
- Contact with airborne allergens
- Exposure to viral infections
- Poor immune system
Another factor that most health experts are looking at is called hygiene hypothesis. This is in connection with personal hygiene and sanitation issues, which are both said to help trigger asthmatic attacks.
Hygiene hypothesis is based on early infections during childhood, where experts are looking at its effects on the immune system including some other factors such as viral and bacterial intervention. Hygiene hypothesis is a mere theory but remains a possible risk for developing asthma.
Who are at Risk for Brittle Asthma?
Brittle asthma can affect people of all ages. However, most brittle asthma occurs during childhood and will often start as a regular asthma condition.
Children who often wheeze and suffers from different respiratory infections are at higher risk of having asthma. Other risk factors mentioned earlier should also be considered.
Children with eczema, allergies, or a family history of asthma are much more prone to develop this condition.
Brittle Asthma Treatment Options
Brittle asthma treatment is different from regular asthma. Regular asthma is treated by corticosteroids through inhaled or oral and beta agonist.
Type 1 brittle asthma involves further subcutaneous injections of beta2 agonist, as well as inhalation of long acting beta-adrenoceptor agonist. Type 2 should only have to avoid allergen factors couple with self-treatment approach.
Due to brittle asthma’s destructive characteristics, the patient is most likely to be admitted into a hospital where a resuscitation might be needed before the actual treatment can begin.
Oral dosage of steroids are commonly given to brittle asthmatic patients. Sometimes, it is combined with intravenous hydrocortisone or aminophylline. The patient can be discharge once the condition improves.
Other forms of treatment includes:
- Personalized diet
- Breathing programs
- Oxygen therapy
Read More: AsthaMist – Asthma Relief
Brittle Asthma Summary
Brittle asthma is a very serious and life threatening respiratory condition. It will interfere with your life and will change your routine. This includes frequent hospital visit, carrying inhalers all the time or setting up your room to look like a hospital room due to oxygen, nebuliser, etc.
If you have this disease, you are probably well-adapt to your condition and chronic attacks are just your normal nature. With the right mindset, family support, consistent medication and other treatments, you can definitely enjoy life and overcome all shortcomings of living with brittle asthma.
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