Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs that allow air to come in and out of the lungs. Patients which asthma have airways are easily inflamed causing the muscles around the airways to tighten with certain triggers. As air becomes difficult to move in/out of the lungs symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness can develop.
Asthma has a strong genetic component and may affect multiple members in a family.
Asthma is the most common chronic illness among children and if left untreated or under-treated, asthma may result in a significant reduction in quality of life, with potential loss of lung function, exercise limitation, difficulty sleeping, school or work absenteeism, costly emergency room visits and in a few cases, death.
There is no cure for asthma, but once it is properly diagnosed and a treatment plan is in place you will be able to manage your condition, and your quality of life will improve.
An allergist / immunologist is the best qualified physician in diagnosing and treating asthma. The team at Breathe Easy Allergy and Asthma can help you take control of your condition and participate in normal activities.
The most common symptom is wheezing. This is a scratchy or whistling sound when you breathe. Other symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Chronic coughing
- Trouble sleeping due to coughing or wheezing
Asthma symptoms, also called asthma flare-ups or asthma attacks, are often caused by allergic and nonallergic triggers:
- Physical activity
- Allergies- pet dander, dust, mold pollen
- Common Colds
- Irritants: cigarette smoke Fumes, dust, gases
- Changes in weather
- Laughing or Crying
A board certified allergy and asthma specialist will diagnose asthma after an extensive patient interview, physical exam and a lung function test. The medical team at Breathe Easy Allergy & Asthma are specially trained to identify the triggers of asthma and prescribe treatments allowing for a better quality of life.
Although there is no cure for asthma, Long term effects of asthma can be minimized with proper diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. 70-80% of children and adults with asthma suffer from allergies. Identifying and controlling allergies is the first step to asthma control.
There are different medications to also help maintain asthma control:
- Rescue/Reliever Medicines provide quick relief of sudden symptoms. Rescue medications start to alleviate the symptoms of asthma within a few minutes by relaxing the muscle spasms within the airways.
- Controller Medicines provide long-term control of asthma and prevent future symptoms. Your doctor will determine if the frequency and severity of your or your child’s symptoms require the use of a maintenance medication. All of the controller medications work by reducing the inflammation in the airways, which is the primary problem with asthma. By reducing swelling, the lungs are stronger and a patient is much less likely to have asthma symptoms.
- Other- Depending on a patient’s clinical history and exam, other medications such as combination therapy, leukotriene inhibitors (such as singulair), oral steroids, Allergen immunotherapy, and Xolair (anti-IgE antibody) may be prescribed.
It is very important that you or your child take all the medicines that the doctor prescribes. A common mistake is to stop taking controller asthma medications when the symptoms improve. Symptom improvement is due to the medication, it does not mean the asthma is gone! Leaving asthma untreated has much bigger risks than any risks associated with the medications. Asthma may improve or worsen with changes in season and exposure to asthma triggers, therefore it is important to have regular check ups to evaluate and monitor your asthma as medication changes are necessary throughout the year.
People with asthma are at risk of developing complications from respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia. That is why it is important for asthma sufferers, especially adults, to get vaccinated annually.
With proper treatment and an asthma management plan, you can minimize your symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.