Asthma is a respiratory condition that inflames and narrows airways, causing wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, or a tight feeling in the chest. An asthma attack is an intense worsening of symptoms, which may require immediate treatment. Long-term control medicines, such as corticosteroids (to reduce airway inflammation and control symptoms) may be prescribed for daily use, and quick-relief medicines (such as rescue inhalers that relieve sudden onset of asthma attacks) may also be an important part of treatment.
An individual consultation is important to identify asthma triggers, such as pet dander or pollen. Subsequent visits can help patients control their asthma over time, by adjusting medicines and evaluating other factors, such as allergies, stress, reflux, or sleep disorders. A peak flow meter, a simple device that measures how much air patients can exhale, can help identify how well asthma is controlled.