Asthma

Asthma is a type of disease that affects the lungs- specifically the bronchial tubes (airways), which allow air to flow in and out of the lungs. It can make breathing difficult, and cause tightness in the chest.

It is a chronic disease, and there is currently no cure. There are treatment options available that can help to relieve the symptoms associated with asthma. Asthma affects people of all ages from all over the world- with over 26 million people having the disease in the United States alone. Asthma can be acute and severe, or mild and chronic.

Asthma Symptoms

Asthma symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people with asthma may rarely experience an attack, and others may experience asthma attacks during specific circumstances. A person may experience an asthma attack if they are ill, when they are around pet dander, are exercising or during a certain season.  Some people may experience asthma symptoms consistently.

The most common symptoms experienced by those with asthma include:

  • Chest tightness/pressure
  • Coughing- which may get worse at night or during exercise
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing

Causes of Asthma

The cause of asthma isn’t known, but there are genetic and environmental factors that seem to play a role. A few of the environmental factors that seem to have a connection to the development of asthma includes heavy smog, chemicals and air pollution. Certain things can trigger asthma symptoms including pet dander, physical activity, dry air, smoke, medications, sulfites, mold, scents, seasons and cleaning agents.

Asthma Treatment Options

There are many treatment options available for those who have been diagnosed with asthma. The treatment that works for one asthma sufferer may not work for another. Patients will work with their doctor to determine what treatment will be the best option for them.

Medication is a common treatment for controlling asthma symptoms and providing quick relief during an attack. Some medications are known as long-term controllers. They are daily medicines that can help to keep minimize the severity of asthma symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce swelling and mucus in the airways. Common anti-inflammatory medications include inhaled corticosteroids. Bronchodilators are often taken in addition to anti-inflammatory medications. They help to relax the muscles around the airways allowing for the person to breathe easier. There are also certain medical procedures include bronchial thermoplasty, which heats and reduces smooth muscle in the airways.

Asthma is a chronic disease, but the symptoms can be managed through treatment. Treatment may also include determining triggers and how to avoid them. There are many at-home treatments and homeopathic remedies that some people use to help treat their asthma, but you should always run treatment ideas by your doctor to make sure that they will be beneficial and not interfere with other treatments.  You should follow treatment plans set up by your healthcare provider to treat your symptoms safely and effectively. The right treatment plan can help to manage symptoms, prevent asthma attacks, and carry on with daily activities.

If you are concerned that you may have asthma, you should schedule an appointment with your primary healthcare provider. Your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and will perform a physical examination to help make a diagnosis. Your doctor may also conduct a test that measures the volume of air that you breathe in and out. The doctor will perform the test without giving you a bronchodilator, and then will repeat the test after you have taken the medication. This test can help to determine if asthma or another upper respiratory condition is present. If you are diagnosed with asthma make sure to chronicle your symptoms so that you can find out possible triggers. Keep a detailed diary and bring it with when you have appointments with your doctor. You will then work with your doctor to come up with a treatment plan for your needs.

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