Asthma is a chronic condition that can make it difficult to breathe. In an asthma attack, the tissues of our airways swell and may secret extra mucus. This narrows the airways and can cause wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Asthma is not curable, but careful monitoring and use of medication can control its symptoms. For some people, their asthma is mild but for others it is severe and has a major impact on their life. It is important for patients to work with their medical providers to develop a treatment plan. Ongoing regular checkups help greatly.
The most common symptoms of asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping
- Chest pain or tightness
People with asthma are likely to suffer these symptoms when they come in contact with certain triggers, which include:
- Indoor allergens such as pet dander and dust mites.
- Outdoor allergens such as pollen.
- Air pollution and smoke.
- Sinus infections.
- Side effects from certain medications.
- Acid reflux.
- Weather, particularly high humidity or very cold air.
Certain things put people more at risk for developing asthma, including:
- A family history of the disease. Someone with a parent who has the disease is particularly susceptible.
- Having an allergy, such as to pollen
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Occupational exposures
Dealing with asthma and failing to keep it under control can result in a range of complications, including:
- Missing work or school, or underperforming.
- Emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
- Anxiety and depression.
- Permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes that carry air to and from your lungs.
- Pneumonia and other lung infections.
- Risk of severe and even life-threatening asthma attacks.
Some children outgrow asthma, and attacks are preventable. Those at risk should be sure to get vaccinated for pneumonia and for the flu, should avoid triggers, should take prescribed medication carefully and consistently, and should follow the asthma action plan that they create with their medical provider.
If asthma is suspected, the doctor will diagnose it by performing a thorough physical examination and measuring lung function. Tests may include:
- A spirometry test, which determines how much air you are able to exhale and how quickly you can do it.
- A peak flow test, which uses a meter to see how hard you can exhale.
- Image tests, such as X-rays, help to find structural abnormalities
- Allergy testing.
- Nitric oxide test. This shows the amount of nitric oxide in your exhalation and indicates how much inflammation is in your airways.
Treatment for asthma includes two kinds of medicines: those that provide quick relief in the event of an attack and those used long-term to prevent attacks.
Fast-acting medicines include:
- Inhaled short-acting beta2-agonists (SABAs)
- Oral or intravenous corticosteroids
- Short-acting anticholinergics
Long-term medicines include:
- Inhaled corticosteroids
- Long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMAs)
- Long-acting beta2 antagonists (LABAs)
- Long-acting anticholinergics
- Leukotriene modifiers to help relieve symptoms
- Combination inhalers
Allergen immunotherapy is often used to tamp down problems caused by certain triggers.
Schedule an appointment today
If you suspect that you may have asthma, or if you already have asthma and need medical advice to create a personalized asthma action plan, contact the professionals at Florida Medical Clinic.
Our Department of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology provides a complete array of services for full diagnosis, asthma treatment and allergy treatment.
Proudly Serving: Brandon, Carrollwood, Land O’ Lakes, and Wesley Chapel.