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Asthma Testing and Treatment

What is Asthma?

If left untreated, allergies can develop into life threatening diseases such as asthma.

  • Asthma affects 15 million Americans, 5 million of whom are children.
  • The number of cases of asthma has doubled over the last 20 years.

Asthma occurs when your airways become narrower, making you short of breath. The muscles around your airways tighten and the linings become sensitive, inflamed, and swollen. Sticky phlegm may be produced. You may start to cough or wheeze. Wheezing does not always occur - coughing is the most common asthma symptom.

Asthma Triggers

Everyone's asthma is different and you will probably find that you will have several asthma triggers. Common asthma triggers include:

  • Viral infections - colds or flu
  • Allergies - pollen, animals, dust mites, etc.
  • Irritants - cold air, tobacco smoke, chemical fumes, etc.
  • Exercise - with proper treatment, you can exercise. If you are fit, you are less likely to be troubled by your asthma.
  • GERD's - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease - heartburn or indigestion, especially at night.

Precautions

Signs that your asthma is getting out of control include:

  • Waking at night with coughing, wheezing, a tight chest or shortness of breath.
  • Being short of breath upon waking up in the morning.
  • Finding yourself too breathless to talk or eat.
  • Needing more and more reliever treatment, or reliever not working very well.

Currently there is no cure for asthma, but we can use very safe and effective treatments that can help to control your symptoms.

Asthma Management

Since asthma is a chronic disease, it requires continuous management and appropriate treatment. According to the national Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (National Asthma Education and Prevention Program, National Institutes of Health, 1997), asthma treatment has four main components:

  • The use of objective measure of lung function (such as peak flow meters and spirometers) to assess the severity of asthma and to monitor the course of treatment.
  • Environmental control measures to avoid or eliminate factors that trigger asthma symptoms or flare-ups.
  • Medication therapy for long-term management to reverse and prevent airway inflammation as well as therapy to manage asthma flare-ups.
  • Patient education to foster a partnership between the patient, his or her family, and the physician and other health care providers.

Asthma Medication Treatment

Asthma management includes using proper medications to prevent and control asthma symptoms and to reduce airway inflammation.

Asthma medications are categorized into two general classes, quick-relief and long-term control medication.

  • Quick-relief medications are used to provide temporary relief of symptoms and generally used as "rescue medications."
  • Long-term therapy control medications are taken daily to control the airway inflammation in persistent asthma.

What to do during an asthma attack?

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are about taking your asthma treatment and avoiding your triggers, you may find that you have an asthma attack.

Click here for guidelines to follow during an asthma attack.

Helpful Links

www.asthmacontrol.com
www.breatherville.org

The Allergy Center at Brookstone offers and maintains this website to provide information of a general nature about the conditions requiring the services of an Allergist. The information is provided with the understanding that we are not engaged in rendering surgical or medical advice or recommendations. Any information in the publications, messages, posting, or articles on this website should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a Board Certified Allergist to address individual medical needs. Individual facts and circumstances will determine the treatment that is most appropriate.