Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects millions of children and adults. It is frequently characterized by symptoms of coughing and/or wheezing. Asthma can be a serious medical condition and requires a medical specialist to best control the symptoms.
If you or your child has asthma, it's crucial to know the causes and symptoms to effectively handle the condition. Things like allergens, infections, exercise, or stress can cause asthma attacks. By identifying and avoiding these triggers, you can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
The most common symptom of asthma is a persistent cough, especially at night or early in the morning. Wheezing, a whistling sound when breathing, is another telltale sign. Some people may also experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, or a feeling of suffocation. These symptoms can vary in intensity from person to person and may worsen during physical activity or exposure to triggers.
To effectively manage asthma, it's crucial to work closely with a medical specialist, such as an allergist or pulmonologist. They will assess your symptoms, conduct lung function tests, and develop a personalized treatment plan. This plan may include daily or as needed inhalers. It also provides a written asthma plan to assist you in case of an emergency.
In addition to medical treatment, there are several lifestyle changes that can help improve asthma control. Maintaining a clean and dust-free environment, avoiding tobacco smoke, and regularly exercising to strengthen the lungs are all beneficial. It's also important to stay up to date with vaccinations, especially the flu shot, as respiratory infections can trigger asthma attacks.
Remember, asthma is a chronic condition, but with proper management, you can lead a normal and active life. By understanding the causes and symptoms, working closely with your asthma specialist, and making necessary lifestyle changes, you can effectively control asthma and minimize its impact on your daily activities. Don't hesitate to reach out for support and guidance – you're not alone in this journey.
Asthma Symptoms Include:
- Chest Tightness
- Shortness of Breath
- Difficulty Breathing
- Increased Mucus Production
Triggers can bring on asthma attacks. A trigger is anything or condition that causes inflammation in the airways, which then leads to asthma symptoms. Your personal triggers can be very different from those of another person with asthma. To prevent airway inflammation and reduce symptoms, find and avoid your specific triggers.
Asthma Triggers May Include:
- Viral Infections or Illness Worsening at Night
- Exertion or Exercise
- Cold Air
- Weather Changes
- High Humidity
- Laughing or Crying
- Strong Smells Like Hair Sprays or Perfumes
- Tobacco Smoke
- Contact With Allergens (if You Have Allergies), Such As Mowing Grass, Raking Leaves or Animals
An allergy specialist diagnoses asthma by performing breathing tests. Spirometry measures the amount of air your lungs can hold and the speed of air you inhale and exhale. A FeNo test (exhaled nitric oxide test) determines how much lung inflammation is present.
If you have asthma you should have an asthma action plan. An asthma action plan tells you what medicine to use or increase when your asthma symptoms get worse. Research shows that following a written plan from your provider helps you control your asthma effectively at home. Take this sample with you to your provider to start a discussion: Asthma Action Plan.
You need to control your asthma so that it doesn't control you. For people with asthma the best strategy is to prevent asthma symptoms. With an effective plan you should be able to lead a normal, active, productive life and achieve your goals.
- Be active without symptoms or pre-treat before exercise
- Sleep all night without asthma symptoms
- Attend school and/or work regularly
- Have the clearest lungs possible and have normal lung studies shown by spirometry or pulmonary function tests
- Have few or no side effects from the medications
- Have no hospitalizations or emergency room visits, but know when you need to seek immediate medical attention