Our Doctors Specialize in Diagnosing Asthma Based on the Patient’s History and Physical Examination, as Well as Specific Tests, Such as Spirometry
Asthma is chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract, and individuals with asthma have very sensitive airways caused by inflammation, which causes increased mucus production.
Mucus lingering in the bronchial tubes causes a response in the form of a cough. This coughing often occurs more frequently in the morning and at nighttime.
Further inflammation is produced by swelling of the bronchial wall, as well as spasms of muscles in the surrounding bronchi. That, in turn, is what causes wheezing (whistling sounds coming from the lungs), shortness of breath, chest tightness and heaviness.
However, milder forms of inflammation such as cough, tightness and heaviness, may go undiagnosed for a while. Anyone with exacerbations of asthma requiring Emergency Room (ER) visits, hospitalizations, or oral steroids should be evaluated for asthma by an allergist, according to the national medical guidelines.
Asthma in children has unique risks due to the fact that children’s airways are already narrower and less stiff than adults.
So, even a small amount of inflammation and swelling can cause serious problems. Frequently, the only signs of asthma in children are a persistent cough at nighttime, especially after an upper respiratory infection or exercise.
Asthma affects about 4-8% of pregnant women. Any woman who has asthma while being pregnant should be monitored for her level of asthma symptoms, because poorly controlled asthma may be dangerous for the developing baby. The medications used for asthma control are safe to use during pregnancy. However, we strive to use the lowest possible dose of those medications that still provide adequate asthma control.
If you are experiencing any form of asthma, don't delay, contact our office to get help!
The main goals in the treatment of asthma are to limit symptoms, increase the quality of life, as well as prevent long-term damage to the lungs.
There are two types of medications used for asthma treatment:
- The first type is called “relievers.” This includes bronchodilators, which improve breathing at the time of use but do not treat the underlying inflammation that is causing the symptoms. Thus, when this medication is needed on a regular basis (more than two times per week during the daytime, or two times at night during the month), this signifies the need for the use of the next group of medications which are called “controllers.”
- Controller medications, also known as preventative medications, include several groups of anti-inflammatory medications in the form of pills or inhalers, which actually decrease inflammation in the respiratory tract, thus improving the symptoms.
Asthma can be intermittent or persistent.
- Intermittent asthma is when symptoms occur less than two times per week and two times at night in a given month. This form of asthma requires only a bronchodilator.
Persistent asthma can be mild, moderate or severe.
- Mild, persistent asthma is when symptoms occur more than twice a week during the daytime, 3-4 times per month at night, and shortness of breath with activity.
- Moderate persistent asthma symptoms occur every day; waking at night more than once per week and requiring the need of a rescue inhaler several times a day, having shortness of breath even with regular activities or resting, and interfering with being able to have a conversation.
At our office we treat all forms of asthma, giving patients a thorough examination and emergency action plans to minimize hospital visits and the need for oral steroids.