What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a common yet complex lung disease that affects 1 in 12 people. It causes inflammation and constriction of the airways which leads to a reduced flow of air in and out of the lungs, making it harder to breathe. The airways in the lungs may react to various triggers and become more inflamed. The muscles around the airways can also tighten. All of this can reduce airflow in your airways and can cause asthma symptoms. While there is currently no cure for asthma, symptoms may be controlled with treatment and an asthma action plan.
What Are the “Triggers” That Can Cause Asthma?
- Allergens such as dust mites, pollen (from trees, grass, and weeds), mold, animal dander, or cockroaches
- Irritants such as tobacco smoke, chemicals, sprays, dust, or air pollution
- Respiratory illness such as a cold or flu
- Physical activity
- Cold air
- Strong emotions or stress
What Are the Signs or Symptoms of Asthma?
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Others, such as lack of sleep, tiredness, headaches, etc.
Your doctor will most likely conduct a physical exam, breathing tests, and evaluations of your medical history to diagnose whether or not you have asthma. Other tests may include a chest x-ray or EKG, allergy tests and a Bronchoprovocation which shows how sensitive your airways are. Once a diagnosis has been reached, your doctor will then identify how serious your asthma is and prescribe an appropriate asthma action plan.
Treating Your Asthma
It is important to remember that the underlying cause of asthma, the inflammation in your lungs, will always be there, so you should work with your doctor to find an effective way to help manage and control your symptoms.
There are many treatments available for asthma. Your doctor will be able to decide what the best treatment option for you based upon the type and severity of your symptoms.
There are 2 types of medicines used to treat asthma:
- Anti-inflammatories – medications that help to reduce inflammation in the lungs and reduce sensitivity to triggers.
- Bronchodilators – medications that help relax the muscles around the airways in the lungs and allow you to breathe easier.
Working With Your Doctor
It is important that you work with your doctor to monitor and evaluate your asthma on a regular basis. This will help you to treat and control your symptoms in an effective manner and improve your lifestyle.