Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs. Today, asthma affects over 26 million people in the United States and most often starts during childhood. If you suffer from asthma, your airways are often swollen and inflamed all the time, making your airways more susceptible to irritants. Asthma attacks can be life threatening and are one of the leading causes of absences from school and work.
Many people do not know that they have asthma and sometimes a cough that won’t go away is the only symptom. If you have asthma, your allergist will help you find out which triggers make your symptoms worse. The majority of patients who suffer from asthma also have allergies. In most cases, it is the allergies that trigger their asthma attacks, as 80% of childhood asthmatics and 70% of adult asthmatics also suffer from allergies. By keeping your allergies under control, you are taking the first and most important step in controlling your asthma. It is well known and has been established from multiple studies that patients overestimate their level of asthma control. This is another reason why proper monitoring and care by an asthma specialist is crucial.
Asthma is a chronic condition which requires a team effort between the patient and allergist in order to achieve good control while minimizing both the amount of therapy needed and the impact on the patient’s life.
An asthma diagnosis is based on several components, a physical exam, comprehensive medical history, and breathing test (pulmonary lung function). It is possible that the board certified allergist, may want to administer a skin test, which is the most reliable form of allergy testing. Allergy tests are a quick, in office procedure that can be performed on adults and children of any age and provide accurate, fast results. A small amount of allergen, selected by the allergist based on your history, is introduced to the surface of the skin through an indention or “prick.” Within minutes, your results will be available.
There are two types of medicines that control asthma: Rescue/Reliever Medicines and Controller Medicines.
Rescue/Reliever Medicines provide quick relief for sudden symptoms. They should alleviate symptoms within minutes by relaxing muscle spasms in the airways. Rescue medicines can be administered by an inhaler or nebulizer. These medicines should NOT be used daily, if they are, then your asthma is not controlled and you need to make an appointment to be seen.
Controller Medicines work over a period of time for long-term control and to prevent future symptoms. These maintenance medicines work by reducing the inflammation in the airways and ultimately reduce swelling and mucus of the airways. This medicine should be taken on a daily basis.
Don’t wait any longer to get a medical diagnosis and an effective treatment plan. If you think you or a family member may suffer from asthma, schedule an appointment right away.