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.
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.
• Medicine such as aspirin
• Cold air or sudden weather changes
• Menstrual cycle
• Health conditions: sleep apnea, acid reflux, respiratory infections and stress.
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.
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.
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.