Asthma Q & A
What is asthma?
Asthma is a medical condition of the lungs which causes inflammation and narrowing of the air passages. Those with asthma commonly have to deal with coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. In most cases, coughing takes place early in the morning or late in the evening. When the air passages are swollen because of asthma and something irritating is inhaled, the muscles in the air passages can constrict and become even more inflamed. Cells in the airways can also begin to produce a thick mucus, further narrowing the airways. When all these side effects combine, more extreme asthma symptoms take place and breathing is extremely difficult.
What are the signs and symptoms of asthma?
Symptoms of asthma commonly include:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing, a whistling or squeaky sound when breathing
Symptoms can vary between patients and having symptoms does not mean that a person definitely has asthma. The best way to be sure is to have a lung function test performed by a doctor at Premier Family Medical and get a proper diagnosis. Certain substances, known as triggers, can cause a flare up or asthma attack. Commonly triggers include:
- Physical activity
- Sulfites in beverages or foods
- Viral upper respiratory infections such as colds
- Allergens including pollens, dust, animal dander, mold, and cockroaches
- Medicines including aspirin, other NSAIDs, and nonselective beta-blockers
- Irritants including fragrance sprays, cigarette smoke, chemicals, and pollutio
How is asthma treated?
Many asthma treatments are available which can fit the needs of any patient. It is important to manage symptoms effectively and avoid triggers. In most cases, two types of medications are used to treat the side effects of asthma. These medications will either be long-term medications or quick-relief/rescue inhalers. The types used for a certain patient will be based on the person’s response to the medications and his or her needs. Some inhalers are designed to be used each day to prevent symptoms while others are meant to be used when severe symptoms occur suddenly. Corticosteroid inhalers are most commonly used for treating asthma by reducing inflammation in the lungs.