Asthma is very common in both adults and children. It does tend to occur more often in individuals with family members who also have asthma and/or allergies, or they themselves have allergies, but this is not always the case. Asthma is often times associated with allergies.
Asthma occurs when the air traveling to the lungs is decreased as a result of inflammation. With asthma, inflammation comes and goes, meaning symptoms come and go. When inflammation is present it can cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest tightness, wheezing, or a cough. If the inflammation is severe and persistent it causes more severe symptoms (such as with an asthma attack). Rarely, these serious episodes can result in death.
Asthma can present itself with a variety of symptoms, ranging from very severe “asthma attacks” to something very mild such as a cough that wakes you up at night. Symptoms that may be a sign of asthma include:
*A cough that occurs at night, with exercise, or when laughing
*Trouble breathing/shortness of breath
Today, there are many highly effective medications to help keep good control of your asthma. With good asthma control you should be able to enjoy your day to day activities, even playing sports without any symptoms. Sleeping through the night should come with ease. Your need for use of your rescue treatments should also decrease drastically, as well as unexpected trips to the ER and urgent care.
Our office offers two tests to help us diagnose, treat, and maintain good control of our patients with asthma. The results of these tests are used in correlation with your current clinical symptoms to help guide your individualized treatment plan.
Exhaled Nitric Oxide: This test will show eosinophilic inflammation within the lungs which is a tell-tale sign of active asthma.
Spirometry: This tells us how your lungs are functioning.
There are a variety of different medications and treatment options for both adults and children with asthma. Each treatment regimen will be individualized based on physical symptoms and test results. Environmental controls (such as avoiding exposure to cats and dogs) is one of the first, and most important steps in asthma control.
Quick-relief medications (RESCUE): This should be with you at all times if you have been diagnosed with asthma. It is used to quickly open the airways.
Controller medications: These are daily medications that are used for long-term control of asthma. They work to help reduce the underlying inflammation.
Allergy Shots: Because often times asthma is triggered by allergies, allergy shots can help improve control of your asthma. This is done by slowly building your immune system over time to eventually reduce and/or eliminate your allergies.
Anti-Ige: This is used for moderate to severe asthma to block the antibody that causes a reaction, therefore helping to prevent asthma attacks from occurring.
Resources: *AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org – American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology