Understand what is asthma and know the symptoms and treatment


This Friday, June 21, marks the National Asthma Prevention Day, one of the most common chronic airways diseases and affects more than 20 million Brazilians. Not by chance, also on this date begins the winter, season more favorable for the emergence of respiratory problems due to the cold and dry climate. The union of these factors is one of the facilitators of the asthmatic crises, caused by inflammation of the bronchi and reduction of the passage of air to the lungs.

Both environmental and genetic factors can cause or worsen Asthma. Among the environmental conditions, for example, are exposure to dust, mites and fungi, as well as climatic variations and viral infections. Genetic factors include family history, rhinitis, and other allergies.

In Joinville, according to Dona Helena Hospital pulmonologist, Carla Bartuscheck, the environment is opportune for asthma to be triggered. This is due to the climatic conditions of the region – humid and rainy – and also by the issue of exposure to pollutants, mainly due to industries.

"Under these conditions, people are more likely to have respiratory diseases," he says.

Asthma also does not choose the public and despite having a higher incidence in childhood, from four to ten years of age, may also appear in adulthood, from the age of 20. It is triggered by an infectious process (including elderly), either by latent predisposition and that develops after a process of infection or stress.

Normal life

Beatriz Zopellaro swims in a swimming pool at the school where she trains in Joinville
Beatriz Zopellaro is an athlete and kept the activities even with the diagnosis of asthma

(Photograph: )

Both the emotional and the physical issues may have triggered asthma in the Beatles sister Beatriz Scherer Zopellaro, 13, the teenager's family believes. She presented the symptoms about a year ago, when her parents decided to investigate what it was with medical help.

According to her father, Rosemiro Zopellaro, as soon as the diagnosis was made the girl went on to do the treatment to prevent asthmatic crises and has since used the "asthma bomb." Another great ally in recovery has been the sport.

– Beatriz practiced swimming before knowing that she had the disease and even had crises during the tests, but decided to continue competing. The very activity along with the treatment made the crises greatly reduce – says the father of the teenager, Rosemiro Zopellaro.

Like Beatriz, those who live with asthma can maintain a normal routine. This is because it is a totally reversible disease with medicines, being possible to desinflamar the area and to do the broncodilatação (increase of the internal diameter of the bronchi that allows greater passage of air), which allows the individual to breathe better.

However, in case of non-treatment and worsening of asthma, in the long term there may be a remodeling and the areas pathways remain with a kind of fixed inflammation, and may evolve into a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease without reversal even with medication.

Learn more about asthma

Source: Carla Bartuscheck, pulmonologist

The disease

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways or bronchi – tubes that carry air to the lungs – usually triggered by a genetic factor (in which the individual is already predisposed) or by exposure to some allergen (such as pollution, cigarette, dust mites or dust). Asthma has no cure but with periodic medical monitoring and proper treatment the symptoms can improve and even disappear over time.


The most common signs are dry cough; Chest pain; feeling of oppression in the chest; and wheezing or shortness of breath. Usually the symptoms may be more evident at night and in the early hours of the morning and usually occur in the crisis period, which can be triggered by climate change, exposure to allergens, and for some people who are predisposed, signs can manifest even after a physical effort.


Control factors to minimize or prevent the manifestation of symptoms preventive actions such as leaving the house well ventilated; try to avoid exposure to cigarettes and pollutants; avoid smoking; keep the body well hydrated; and follow a healthy routine allied to physical activity.


The determination of the disease usually occurs through the clinical diagnosis, since the X-ray usually does not present abnormality or radiological alteration. In this way, the clinical picture is evaluated based on the patient's symptoms, physical test, and the performance of a pulmonary function test. The latter also helps to indicate the degree of the disease (mild, moderate or severe).


Medicated and individualized according to the conditions of each patient. It is usually done through inhaled corticosteroid medications via the bronchodilator (asthma bomb). Treatment consists of two forms: maintenance, to prevent crises from developing; and rescue, for rapid relief of symptoms.

Myths about treatment

Source: Brazilian Society of Pulmonology and Tisiology / Ministry of Health

The "bombilla" of asthma is addictive. It's myth

The short-acting bronchodilator or rescue medication momentarily relieves shortness of breath when inhaled. What happens often is that the patient does not treat asthma continuously – which is not the correct one – and he needs the most frequent firecrackers, but this has nothing to do with "addiction."

The "bombinha" is bad for the heart. It's myth

When the first bronchodilator remedies for asthma appeared, they were substances that had as a side effect the acceleration of the heart (tachycardia). With the new and better drugs and devices, this effect faded.


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