Asthma is a chronic (long-term) disease that causes airways in the lungs to become irritated and inflamed, making it hard to breathe. Studies show that an estimated 300 million people worldwide have asthma, with around 250,000 annual deaths attributed to this disease. Asthma can begin at any age but commonly starts in childhood. Typically, children grow out of asthma by their teens. Asthma is one of the most frequent causes of the admission to the hospital for children. Asthma usually runs in families and can be associated with allergic conditions like eczema and hay fever.
People who have asthma always have inflamed airways. Their airways become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers their symptoms. Once your airways begin to tighten it makes it difficult for air to move in and out of your lungs, which causes symptoms such as:
• Wheezing – this is the most common
• Chronic Coughing
• Shortness of breath
• Chest tightness or pain
• Loss of sleep due to coughing or wheezing
Asthma symptoms or attacks occur with allergies and exposure to allergens such as pollen, mold, pet dander, or dust mites. There are also non-allergic triggers including smoke, pollution, and changes in the weather. For almost all asthma sufferers, these symptoms usually arise during physical activity, when you have a cold, or during times of high stress.
A diagnosis of asthma can be made by taking a thorough medical history exam and performing a breathing test to measure how well your lungs work. A test commonly done to diagnose asthma is called spirometry. This test diagnoses the severity of asthma and measures how well your current treatment is doing. Spirometry is performed by having the patient take a deep breath and blow into a sensor to determine the amount of air your lungs can hold as well as the speed of the air you inhale and exhale. Since allergies and asthma go hand in hand, your doctor may perform allergy testing. Treating all of your allergic triggers for asthma will help you avoid asthma symptoms. Along with your medical history and tests, there are also patterns of asthma symptoms that can help your doctor make a diagnosis. You should pay attention to symptoms if they occur at any of these times –
• At night or early morning
• During or after exercise
• During certain seasons
• After laughing or crying
• When exposed to common asthma triggers
Management & Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma but there are ways to manage symptoms. Asthma symptoms can be controlled with effective asthma treatment. To keep your asthma symptoms managed, you must take your prescribed medications as directed and learn to avoid triggers that cause your asthma symptoms. Your doctor will prescribe the best medications for your condition and provide you with specific instructions for using them. Specific medications are taken for different purposes. Controller medications are taken daily, these medications include:
• Inhaled Corticosteroids (Flovent Diskus, Flovent HFA)
• Budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler)
• Mometasone (Asmanex)
• Ciclesonide (Alvesco)
• Flunisolide (Aerobid)
• Beclomethasone (Qvar)
Combination inhalers contain an inhaled corticosteroid as well as a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA). These are symptom controllers that are used to help open your airways. LABA’s should never be the sole treatment for asthma. They are recommended to be taken with inhaled corticosteroids.
There are also quick-relief or rescue medications that are used to quickly relax and open your airways and relieve symptoms during an asthma attack, or if prescribed taken before exercising. Quick-relief medications are not to be used for controller medications. These inhaled bronchodilator medications include:
• Albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA and, others)
• Levalbuterol (Xopenex HFA)
• Pirbuterol (Maxair Autohaler)
People who have asthma are at risk of developing complications from respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia, which is why it is vital for people living with asthma to get vaccinated annually.
With the correct treatment and an effective asthma management plan, you can reduce your symptoms and live a better quality of life. If you are looking for asthma treatment in San Antonio, Gonzaba Urgent Care can help you! Our team of professionals will assist you in creating the best management plan for your symptoms. If you are in San Antonio, let us take over your asthma care. Give us a call at (210) 921-6600 or visit our website for more information!