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Understanding Asthma: Diagnosis and Treatments Explained

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Did you know that approximately 30 million people are currently living with asthma? And that the number of patients with asthma increases by 50% every decade? Asthma symptoms can make you feel singled out, but you should know you are not alone. This chronic respiratory condition is widespread and well-understood. With support from a board-certified allergist, it can be effectively diagnosed and treated. 

Diagnosing Asthma

Asthma diagnosis requires collaboration between you and your board-certified allergist. This process is critical to your long-term comfort and relies on a comprehensive evaluation, including your medical history, current symptoms, physical exam and diagnostic tests. You can expect the following from your asthma evaluation:

Medical History: During the initial consultation, your allergist will gather detailed information about your symptoms, triggers and family history. Understanding your medical history helps to identify potential risk factors and avoid potential misdiagnoses.

Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination is conducted to assess lung function and overall respiratory health. This may involve listening to your breathing, checking for wheezing and/or evaluating your lung capacity.

Diagnostic Tests: To confirm the diagnosis, your allergist may recommend several tests:

  • Spirometry: This lung function test measures how much air you can inhale and exhale and how quickly you can do it. It helps assess the severity of airflow obstruction.
  • Peak Flow Measurement: This handheld device measures the amount and rate at which air can be forcefully exhaled from your lungs. It’s a useful tool for tracking changes in your lung function over time and can be used at home or on the go.
  • Bronchial Challenge Test: Also known as a methacholine challenge, this test helps determine if your airways are hyperresponsive, a characteristic of asthma.
  • Allergy Testing: Allergies can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Identifying specific allergens through skin prick tests or blood tests can help your allergy and asthma specialist create a tailored treatment plan.
  • Chest X-ray or CT Scan: These imaging tests may be performed to rule out other lung conditions that mimic asthma symptoms.

Treatment Options

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your allergists will work closely with you to develop an personalized treatment plan. Together, you will embark on a journey to control your symptoms and enhance your quality of life. Available asthma treatment methods include:

Long-Term Control Medications: These daily medications help manage inflammation and prevent asthma symptoms. Long-term control medications include inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta-agonists, leukotriene modifiers and monoclonal antibodies.

Quick-Relief (Rescue) Medications: These fast-acting remedies provide rapid relief during asthma attacks. Quick-relief medications, such as rescue inhalers, are commonly used to open airways quickly.

Allergy Management: If allergies trigger your asthma symptoms, allergen avoidance strategies and treatments are your priority. Your board-certified allergist will conduct allergy testing to identify your cause and create a tailored treatment plan. Immunotherapy is the closest thing to an allergy cure and may be recommended.

Lifestyle Modifications: Our allergists will provide guidance on reducing exposure to asthma triggers such as smoke, allergens and respiratory infections. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet can also lead to better asthma control.

Asthma Action Plan: Asthma flare-ups happen. When they do, it’s comforting to know there’s a safety plan in place. Your allergist will help create an asthma action plan that outlines steps and safety measures for adjusting medications or seeking medical attention.

Regular Follow-Up: Asthma management is an ongoing process. Our allergists will schedule regular follow-up appointments to monitor your progress, adjust your treatment plan and address any concerns you may have.

Let’s identify your path to asthma relief!

Are asthma symptoms getting in the way of life? Charleston Allergy and Asthma’s board-certified allergy and asthma specialists are ready to support you on the road to allergy and asthma relief. Contact our team, now part of Allergy Partners, to schedule your next appointment

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