Asthma

Asthma Overview

Asthma is a chronic illness that may make it very difficult to breath. This difficulty breathing occurs when your lungs are inflamed. There are a variety of triggers that may cause symptoms, which include physical activity, allergies, and more. Once something has triggered your symptoms, then the airways become swollen and you will have trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, or tightness in your chest. If you have a family history of allergies or asthma, then you are at a higher risk of developing symptoms.

Asthma

Asthma Triggers

Asthma triggers will vary for everyone, and can be anything from irritants in the air, exercise, weather, allergies, or strong emotions. It is essential that you keep track of your triggers so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated.

Irritants in the air can be anything from car exhaust, cigarette smoke, fires, or charcoal grills. This occurs when the irritants in the air enter the lungs and passages to the lungs. The lungs begin to swell and narrow, which makes it much more difficult to breath and will also lead to coughing and wheezing. These symptoms will occur within minutes of exposure.

Exercising can cause strain on the lungs, but that does mean that you must limit exercise. There are many medications that can help you through your exercises. Symptoms usually occur within 5-10 minutes and you may experience shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue, or chest tightness.

The weather also plays a large roll in asthma. If the weather becomes too cold or humid, you may experience asthma symptoms. These symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing. These symptoms may be increased if you are exercising outside in these humid or cold conditions. To decide if weather plays a role in your asthma symptoms, closely monitor the weather and symptoms to see any correlations that may occur.

Allergy related asthma can be caused from animal dander, dust mites, mold, or pollen. When these allergy particles are introduced into the lungs, you will begin experiencing symptoms such as difficulty breathing.

Strong emotions, such as stress and anxiety may also cause asthma symptoms. During times of high stress, you may be more likely to forget your asthma medication too, which may lead to an increase in symptoms. Another reason that stress may lead to asthma attacks is because during times of high stress, your body is not able to properly fight off infections, such as a cold.

Asthma Symptoms

Not all symptoms are the same for each person. The most common symptoms noted are wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain or tightness. Depending on the cause of your asthma, is how extreme and when you may notice symptoms. Symptoms can range from severe to mild. Controlling these symptoms is possible with help from your pulmonologist. Most people will experience multiple symptoms and not just one symptom at a time. For example, if you are coughing, you may also experience chest pain.

Asthma Diagnosis

There are a variety of ways in which your pulmonologist can diagnose asthma. The best way to begin the diagnosis is to keep a journal of what symptoms you are having and when they are occurring. From this journal, your pulmonologist will be able to notice trends in your symptoms. After a brief physical exam and history have been completed, you may be asked to complete a lung function test. Once you have been properly diagnosed, your pulmonologist may recommend completing these exams again after a brief period of beginning new medications to see how well you are responding.

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Asthma Treatments

Once you have been properly diagnosed, your pulmonologist will help you to create an asthma action plan. An asthma action plan will tell you exactly what medications to take at each stage of an asthma attack. Managing your asthma is crucial. Your doctor may recommend any medications from an anti-inflammatory steroid, biologics, bronchodilators, inhalers, or nebulizers. Asthma varies between each person, so your physician will be able to tell you the perfect path to manage your asthma.

Managing Asthma

Managing your asthma is crucial to your health. Creating an asthma action plan is the first step after a diagnosis. This will tell you what medications to take when you feel well, when you are starting to feel symptoms, and when you are having a true asthma attack. An asthma action plan should also include any contact information, especially for children. Once this is completed, you can print out multiple copies and distribute to the people that are around you or your child most often. Your physician will be able to assist you in completing this form properly.

The next step to managing your asthma is to avoid whatever triggers your symptoms. For example, if your symptoms are brought on by cold weather, then you will want to move your workouts indoors and limit your time outside until it warms up again.

Immunotherapy is typically known to help allergies, but if you suffer from allergies and asthma, it can also drastically aid your asthma symptoms. Allergy shots are not a cure for asthma, but they are able to lessen allergy symptoms which in turn, will make your asthma symptoms less too.

The last step to managing your asthma symptoms is to take your medication on time and properly. Asthma medications are divided into two segments: long-term asthma control medications and quick-relief (or rescue) asthma medications. Long-term asthma control medications are to be taken on a regular schedule to reduce the risk of an asthma attack. These medications are taken daily. Your physician will work closely with you to ensure that the best long-term control medications have been prescribed to you and are properly working.

The other type of medications are quick-relief, or rescue, asthma medications. These medications are helpful in ending a period of intense coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest pain and tightness. These medications are typically given in a metered dose inhaler or nebulizer. This medication must be carried with the patient everywhere in case a symptom is brought on quickly.