Patient Education

What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that causes decreased airflow in the lungs. This may result in different symptoms including difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough. The decreased airflow is caused by inflammation in the lungs and can lead to constriction or narrowing of the air passages.

Asthma symptoms can occur at any time of the day or night. The frequency of asthma symptoms can be daily, weekly or episodic. Asthma is very common with more than 22 million people in the United States including around 7 million children have this condition. Without treatment, asthma may result in a significant reduction in quality of life, a potential loss of lung function, exercise limitation, school or work absenteeism, , costly emergency room visits and in a few cases, death.
Many people with asthma have allergies. In some situations, allergies can trigger asthma symptoms. This is called allergic asthma and is the most common form of asthma. Allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites and animal dander can trigger asthma symptoms.
There is no cure for asthma but when properly diagnosed and treated, people with asthma can live with a better quality of life.

What causes asthma?

Asthma has a strong genetic component. If you have asthma, others in your family may have asthma as well. There are many triggers that may cause asthma symptoms.
Asthma triggers include:
• Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold, cats or dogs.
• Irritants: tobacco smoke, air pollution or strong odors like perfume or cleaning supplies.
• Exercise
• Medicine such as aspirin
• Cold air or sudden weather changes
• Menstrual cycle
• Health conditions: sleep apnea, acid reflux, respiratory infections and stress.

How is asthma treated?

Asthma treatment is based on the severity and frequency of your symptoms. To help develop the right plan to control your asthma, the following information is paramount in decreasing your risk for future asthma attacks.

Trigger avoidance

This is the most important step in controlling your asthma. Once specific triggers have been identified, you will be instructed how to avoid them. In fact, avoidance can be just as effective as taking medicine.
There are two types of medications to treat asthma: rescue medicines and controller medicines.

  1. Rescue or quick-relief medicines. These medicines help open the airways quickly and provide quick relief of sudden asthma symptoms. Rescue medications decrease symptoms of asthma within a few minutes by relaxing the muscle spasms within the airways. The most commonly prescribed medication for rescue of asthma symptoms is albuterol, or a related medication, levalbuterol. Quick-relief medicines do not prevent future symptoms or control underlying inflammation which is the cause of asthma symptoms.
  2. Controller medicines. These medicines provide long-term control of asthma and prevent future symptoms. If you consistently use rescue medicines more than twice a week, a controller medicine is recommended. There are many different controller medicines available but they all work by reducing inflammation in the airways. By reducing swelling, the lungs can function better and you are less likely to have asthma symptoms.

Allergy shots

If your asthma is triggered by an allergy, allergy shots are very effective. This form of treatment builds immunity to offending allergens over a period of time by gradually increasing small amounts of allergen in the form of an injection. Allergy shots help the body to build up a tolerance to the effects of the allergen and eventually reduce and eliminate your allergy symptoms.


Lisa Roth, MD
Director, Allergy & Immunology
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
TJH Medical Services, PC
134-20 Jamaica Ave, 1st Floor
Jamaica, NY 11418
718-206-6742 phone
718-206-6905 fax


Pollen Forecast


  • When a local ENT first referred me to Dr. Roth several years ago, I was dependent upon Allegra pills and Nasacort nasal spray to function throughout the day -- and not comfortably. Now, with monthly visits to Dr. Roth for allergy shots, I no longer... View More..
    Adam from Long Beach, NY

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    Laurie from Lynbrook, NY

  • Several years ago, at the age of sixty, I was diagnosed with allergy induced asthma. At times, I would struggle for breath and experience intense wheezing in my chest. I then found Dr. Lisa Roth and after a thorough diagnosis, began receiving... View More..
    John from Long Beach, NY

  • Due to Dr. Roth’s professional care, it took only a few visits before I noticed a dramatic improvement in my allergy symptoms. Dr. Roth was very informative concerning my allergies and the progress made throughout my visits. As a professional, I... View More..
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  • The level of care offered by Dr. Roth is exceptional. Her concern and expertise is evident the moment you meet her. The migraine headaches I used to suffer during the spring pollen season are now just a memory. Dr. Roth’s office hours allow even... View More..
    Tom from Lynbrook, NY

  • When I came back from a trip abroad in 2011, my allergies became unbearable. I was constantly congested and coughing, my asthma would act up daily and I would get a sinus infection or a cold every month even though I was taking allergy medicine... View More..
    Kathryn from Lynbrook, NY