Sat, Jun 02, 2012 - Page 13 News List

The difficulties of recognizing asthma
氣喘難辨 早就醫確診早治療

A doctor gives a boy an inhaler in New Taipei City on Oct. 19 last year.
一位醫師去年十月十九日於新北市給小男孩呼吸器呼吸。

Photo: Lin Hsiang-mei, Liberty Times
照片:自由時報記者林相美

A woman surnamed Lin, who works at a textile factory, was suffering from chest distress and having difficulty breathing every time she was in the factory. She initially thought it was a heart disease-related issue, but after undergoing numerous tests and finding nothing out of the ordinary, she decided to see a thoracic surgeon, who diagnosed her with asthma. The doctor says asthma is not easy to diagnose, so people should seek medical help as soon as possible if they have asthmatic symptoms.

Yu Chun-hsiang, a thoracic surgeon at National Cheng Kung University Hospital’s Douliou Branch, says that because Lin did not have the typical wheezing of an asthma patient, it was difficult to tell whether she actually had asthma. After confirming that it was indeed asthma, she started taking medicine and wearing a mask at work, and the symptoms began showing improvement.

Yu says asthma is most common in children and the elderly, and that it can be hereditary. Many people with asthmatic symptoms do not know they have asthma because the symptoms are so subtle. It may cause severe contractions of pulmonary valves, heart palpitations, escalating blood pressure, difficulty getting rid of carbon dioxide, low concentration of oxygen, leading to a coma and respiratory failure.

Most cases of asthma are caused by external factors, the most common being diet-related, including breathing in allergens or coming into contact with animal proteins from foods. The opposite of this is endogenous asthma, which is not caused by allergens, the most common being infectious respiratory viruses.

Yu says diagnosing asthma is difficult, and many diseases exhibit the same symptoms as asthma, including children with respiratory infections, choking on foreign objects, adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other pulmonary or cardiovascular diseases. Usually, however, only one or two people out of 10 who suspect they have asthma and seek medical attention actually have the condition.

TODAY’S WORDS 今日單字

1. symptom n.

症狀 (zheng4 zhuang4)

例: Frequent trips to the bathroom, unquenchable thirst, losing weight without trying and fatigue are some of the symptoms of diabetes.

(尿多、渴多、體重減輕和疲倦都是糖尿病的症狀。)

2. infection n.

感染 (gan2 ran3)

例: The infection symptoms were relieved with antibiotics.

(服用抗生素後感染的症狀有好轉。)

3. pollute v.

汙染 (wu1 ran3)

例: Their only source of water became polluted, so they started going to a neighboring village to get water.

(他們唯一的水源被汙染後,就開始去鄰近的鄉鎮取水。)


People should seek immediate medical attention if they are repeatedly wheezing, have obvious coughing at night, coughing or wheezing after exercise, coughing from breathing polluted air or cigarette smoke, chest distress or wheezing, chest distress when coming down with a cold and the cold does not get better for 10 days or longer, or chest distress or wheezing after taking aspirin or beta-blockers.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)

在紡織廠工作的林姓婦人日前只要進入廠房就覺得胸悶、呼吸困難,她原以為是心臟疾病,做了許多檢查都沒異常,改看胸腔科才確診是氣喘;醫師提醒,氣喘不易診斷,民眾若有症狀應儘速就醫。

成大醫院斗六分院胸腔科醫師游群翔指出,由於林姓婦人沒有出現氣喘常見的喘鳴症狀,不自覺是氣喘,等就醫確定是氣喘病之後,開始服藥,並戴口罩上班,現在症狀已改善。

游群翔表示,兒童期及老年期是氣喘發生的兩個高峰,且氣喘有遺傳性,許多人罹患氣喘因症狀輕微不自覺,可能造成氣管收縮嚴重,心跳、血壓攀升,造成二氧化碳排出困難,氧氣濃度下降,進而昏迷、呼吸衰竭。

大多數氣喘病發作是由外在因素誘發,最常出現於飲食起居中,例如吸入過敏原,或接觸食物中的動物蛋白;相反地,不是因為接觸過敏原所引發的氣喘則是內因性氣喘,最常見是感染呼吸道病毒。

游群翔強調,臨床上診斷氣喘不容易,許多疾病會出現與氣喘相同的症狀,包括小孩呼吸道感染、氣道異物阻塞,成人患有慢性阻塞性肺病、心肺血管疾病等,往往十名疑似氣喘的民眾前來問診,最後只有一到兩人確定罹患氣喘。

民眾若有反覆喘鳴、明顯夜咳,運動後出現咳嗽或喘鳴、吸入汙染空氣或香菸會咳嗽、胸悶或喘鳴,感冒即感到胸悶,且此感冒常常需十天以上才會好,服用阿斯匹靈或乙型交感神經阻斷劑就覺得胸悶或喘鳴時,應盡早就醫,接受醫師診治。

(自由時報記者黃淑莉)

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