“Living with asthma involves more than simply treating acute attacks- it’s about asthma control. If you have asthma, we can help you learn to manage your condition and minimize the impact asthma has on your life”.
Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the airway. It may be mild, moderate or severe and affects each person who has it differently. You may have daily or weekly symptoms, or you may go months or years between “attacks”.
What causes asthma?
The cause of asthma is not known. What is known is that asthma attacks result from exposure to specific triggers. Triggers are different for everyone. Common triggers include pet dander, cigarette smoke, pollen, dust mites, molds and viral infections.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
If you have asthma, your bronchioles (airways) become inflamed and swollen and may spasm or tighten; in addition, mucous production is increased.
Symptoms of asthma include:
- shortness of breath
- coughing which is often worse at night
- chest discomfort or tightness
Who gets asthma?
No one knows for certain why some people develop asthma and others do not (including people who live in the same home), but what we do know is that heredity does play a role. You are more likely to develop asthma if one or both of your parents have asthma. Things in the environment are triggers for some individuals. Obesity has recently been identified as a condition which increases the risk of developing asthma.
How is asthma diagnosed?
If you suspect that you might have asthma but have not yet been diagnosed, it’s important that you come in to see us so that we can begin to work together to determine the best way to achieve asthma control. There is no reason to suffer from asthma symptoms when effective treatment is available. In addition, symptoms vary from episode to episode- just because your attacks have been mild does not mean that you are not at risk for having a serious attack.
When you come in to the clinic, the first order of business is to take a detailed history. We’ll ask you about your symptoms, including when they started, what makes them better or worse, how long you have had the symptoms and whether anyone else in your family has a history of allergies or asthma.
We will also need to examine you by listening carefully to your heart and lungs. Asthma often causes a characteristic wheezing sound that can be heard with a stethoscope. This is caused by narrowing of the airways. Sometimes the wheezing is so prominent that it can be heard without a stethoscope. We may also look at your nose, throat and your skin to look for signs of allergies, such as rhinitis (nasal congestion) and eczema, which causes reddened and irritated patches of skin. People with hay fever, allergies and/or eczema are more prone to developing asthma.
We may perform spirometry testing, which involves you blowing as hard and as long as you can into a tube, which registers the volume of air you can exhale, as well as the speed at which you can empty your lungs of air. This test allows us to compare your results to typical results that would be expected for your age and size. We may also order a chest x-ray to rule out other conditions which could be causing your symptoms and/or blood work to ensure you do not have a lung infection.
What is the treatment for asthma?
If we determine that your symptoms are consistent with asthma, we will prescribe medications that should quickly improve them. Inhaled steroids that reduce airway inflammation and bronchodilators (medications that open the airway) are two types of medications that can be very helpful in asthma and can help you attain asthma control.
If you have asthma, you will need careful and ongoing medical management. we have experience working with asthma patients to control their symptoms and improve the quality of their lives. Together, we will come up with an asthma management plan to minimize your symptoms, help you to identify your personal triggers and avoid severe asthma attacks which can be life-threatening.
Whether you already know you have asthma and are looking for a physician to partner with to manage your condition, or you have symptoms that you suspect might be due to asthma, we can help. Make an appointment today to take control of your asthma.