Asthma Symptoms & Treatment


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Asthma is a Chronic Lung Disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning.

Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood.

The exact cause of asthma is not known. Researchers think some genetic and environmental factors interact to cause asthma, most often early in life.

ASTHMA FACTORS:

  • An inherited tendency to develop allergies, called atopy.
  • Certain respiratory infections during childhood.
  • Contact with some airborne allergens or exposure to some viral infections in infancy or in early childhood when the immune system is developing.
  • If asthma runs in your family, exposure to irritants may make your airways more reactive to substances in the air.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ASTHMA:

Common signs and symptoms of Asthma include:

 

  • Coughing from asthma often is worse at night or early in the morning, making it hard to sleep.
  • Wheezing is a whistling or squeaky sound that occurs when you breathe.
  • This may feel like something is squeezing or sitting on your chest.
  • Shortness of breath, some people who have asthma say they can’t catch their breath or they feel out of breath. You may feel like you can’t get air out of your lungs.

DIAGNOSIS FOR ASTHMA:

  • Your primary care doctor will diagnose asthma based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and test results.
  • Your doctor also will figure out the severity of your asthma—that is, whether it’s intermittent, mild, moderate, or severe. The level of severity will determine what treatment you’ll start on.

LUNG FUNCTION TEST FOR ASTHMA:

  • Your doctor will use a test called spirometry to check how your lungs are working. This test measures how much air you can breathe in and out. It also measures how fast you can blow air out.
  • Your doctor also may give you medicine and then test you again to see whether the results have improved.
  • If the starting results are lower than normal and improve with the medicine, and if your medical history shows a pattern of asthma symptoms, your diagnosis will likely be asthma.

OTHER TESTS FOR ASTHMA:

  • Allergy testing to find out which allergens affect you, if any.
  • A test to measure how sensitive your airways are. This is called a Bronchoprovocation Test. Using spirometry, this test repeatedly measures your lung function during physical activity or after you receive increasing doses of cold air or a special chemical to breathe in.
  • A test to show whether you have another condition with the same symptoms as asthma, such as Reflux Disease, Vocal Cord Dysfunction, or Sleep Apnea.
  • A chest x ray or an EKG (electrocardiogram). These tests will help find out whether a foreign object or other disease may be causing your symptoms.

TREATMENT FOR ASTHMA:

Asthma is a long-term disease that has no cure. The goal of asthma treatment is to control the disease. Good asthma control will:

  1. Prevent chronic and troublesome symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath.
  2. Reduce your need for quick-relief medicines.
  3. Help you maintain good lung function.
  4. Let you maintain your normal activity level and sleep through the night.
  5. Prevent asthma attacks that could result in an emergency room visit or hospital stay.

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