Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways in your lungs. The severity of Asthma depends on the individual, but can range from mild to severe with attacks ranging from minutes to hours.  Many people with Asthma have triggers that can bring on an attack.  Such triggers include cigarette smoke, dust mites, pollen, mold, exercise, stress, indoor/outdoor pollutants, and anything else you may be allergic to.   The most common symptoms of Asthma include breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness.

Diagnosing Asthma

If you suspect you have Asthma make an appointment with your doctor and they can refer you to an Allergist or Immunologist if they think you may have the disease.  To help your doctor make a diagnosis keep track of all symptoms you experience, and the triggers that lead to these symptoms.   When being tested for Asthma you will likely have to complete a test called Spirometry, where you will be asked to breathe into a sensor to measure the amount of air your lungs can hold and speed of the air you inhale or exhale.  This will help your doctor diagnose the severity of your Asthma.

Treatment of Asthma

There is currently no cure for Asthma, but there are treatments available to help you manage your disease.  Non-drug therapy includes avoiding your triggers (staying away from things you are allergic to and not smoking) and using a Peak Flow meter to monitor your breathing at home.  There are many different therapies now available for Asthma, so work with your doctor to find the appropriate treatment(s) for you.  Controller medications are taken daily and usually have drugs called Corticosteroids in them.  Fluticasone, budesonide, mometasone, ciclesonide, flunisolide, and beclomethasone are a few of these products available.  Combination inhalers are also available and offer corticosteroids with long acting beta agonists.  Leukotriene modifiers such as montelukast, afirlukast, and zileuton are also options for some Asthma patients.  Short acting beta agonists are also available as rescue inhalers for an acute attack or exacerbation of Asthma.  Albuterol, Levalbuterol, and pirbuterol are a few that are in this class of drugs.  Rescue inhalers do not replace the use of maintenance inhalers, if you have to use your rescue inhaler more than twice a week you should see your doctor about changing your medication.  Together with your doctor you should develop an Asthma Action Plan so that you can be in control of your disease and carry on a normal healthy life.

For more information, visit:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

References:

Asthma: Epidemic of a Chronic Disease, report from Donna E. Shalala, former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services

Asthma Overview, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Asthma Treatment and Management, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. August 2007

Services provided by Long’s Drugs are not intended to replace the services of a physician. This information is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should consult a physician in all matters relating to your health, and particularly in respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.