Asthma is a chronic lung condition that makes it difficult to breathe in certain situations. With this condition, narrowed airways lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. Some people only experience mild symptoms, while others experience asthma that is severe and hard to control. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with this condition, read on to learn more about effectively managing it.
What Are the Symptoms?
Asthma is characterized by shortness of breath, pain or tightness in the chest, wheezing or whistling when exhaling, and coughing attacks that are exacerbated by a cold or the flu. These symptoms may interfere with sleep. Some people with the condition only experience symptoms occasionally, such as when they are exercising or under stress. Others must take daily medication to control their symptoms.
What Causes Asthma?
While experts don’t know exactly what causes this disease to develop, a combination of genetic and environmental factors likely plays a role. Symptoms themselves can be triggered by a variety of substances that differ among individuals. These commonly include airborne pollutants, respiratory infections, cold air, exercise, certain medications, stress, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Asthma is more common among those with a family history of the disease, who have another respiratory condition, are overweight, who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke or environmental pollutants.
How Is It Treated?
Ideally, treatment reduces overall symptoms and limits the need for emergency rescue medications. Our doctor will likely prescribe long-term medications such as inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, long-acting beta agonists, or combination inhalers. Short-term rescue medications are taken during an asthma attack to relieve symptoms and restore normal breathing. These can include short-acting beta agonists, bronchodilators and oral and IV corticosteroids. We will also help you identify symptom triggers, so they can be avoided. Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier at home can promote optimal lung health for those with asthma.
See us at Columbia Asthma and Allergy Clinic if you experience frequent wheezing and coughing attacks for longer than a few days, chest pain, tightness, or other symptoms of this condition. Without treatment, attacks often become more frequent and more severe. If you’ve already been diagnosed, follow your treatment plan and review it regularly. It’s important to adjust treatment if symptoms get worse, if you need to use your rescue inhaler more often, or if symptoms don’t seem to be responding to medication. We have locations in California, Oregon, and Washington. Contact us to learn how you can effectively manage your asthma.