What is Asthma ?
Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
What are the symptoms of Asthma ?
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. You may have infrequent asthma attacks, have symptoms only at certain times or have symptoms all the time.
Asthma signs and symptoms include :
– Shortness of breath
– Chest tightness or pain
– Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
– A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
– Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
What are some types of Asthma ?
– Exercise-induced asthma,which may be worse when the air is cold and dry
– Occupational asthma,triggered by workplace irritants such as chemical fumes, gases or dust
– Allergy-induced asthma,triggered by airborne substances, such as pollen, mold spores, cockroach waste or particles of skin and dried saliva shed by pets (pet dander)
What are some risk factors for asthma ?
Having a blood relative (such as a parent or sibling) with asthma
– Having another allergic condition, such as atopic dermatitis or allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
– Being overweight
– Being a smoker
– Exposure to secondhand smoke
– Exposure to exhaust fumes or other types of pollution
– Exposure to occupational triggers, such as chemicals used in farming, hairdressing and manufacturing
What are some common Asthma triggers ?
Exposure to various irritants and substances that trigger allergies (allergens) can trigger signs and symptoms of asthma. Asthma triggers are different from person to person and can include:
– Airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander or particles of cockroach waste
– Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
– Physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
– Cold air
– Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
– Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve)
– Strong emotions and stress
– Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine
– Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat
When should I see a doctor ?
– If you think you have asthma : If you have frequent coughing or wheezing that lasts more than a few days or any other signs or symptoms of asthma, see your doctor. Treating asthma early may prevent long-term lung damage and help keep the condition from worsening over time.
– To monitor your asthma after diagnosis : If you know you have asthma, work with your doctor to keep it under control. Good long-term control helps you feel better from day to day and can prevent a life-threatening asthma attack.
– If your asthma symptoms get worse :
See us if your asthma is worsening. Signs that your asthma is probably worsening include:
– Asthma signs and symptoms that are more frequent and bothersome
– Increasing difficulty breathing (measurable with a peak flow meter, a device used to check how well your lungs are working)
– The need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often
– To review your treatment : Asthma often changes over time. Meet with your doctor regularly to discuss your symptoms and make any needed treatment adjustments.
– Seek emergency treatment : Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Signs of an asthma emergency include:
– Rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
– No improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler, such as albuterol
– Shortness of breath when you are doing minimal physical activity
What are some complications of Asthma?
Asthma complications include:
– Signs and symptoms that interfere with sleep, work or recreational activities
– Sick days from work or school during asthma flare-ups
– Permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes (airway remodeling) that affects how well you can breathe
– Emergency room visits and hospitalizations for severe asthma attacks
– Side effects from long-term use of some medications used to stabilize severe asthma