Asthma is a chronic condition of the lungs. It causes inflammation and swelling of the airways, making it difficult to breath. This inflammation can cause wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness of the chest. Inflammation can be triggered by allergens and irritants, like pollen and dust. Asthma can also be triggered while you're sleeping, pregnant, taking other medications, through physical activity or changes in the weather. Colds, which affect the respiratory area, can become more severe for people with asthma, or trigger asthma attacks. Even a runny nose can make asthma more difficult to manage. Asthma usually develops during childhood but continues to be an issue through adulthood. Although asthma cannot be cured, there are treatments that make it manageable. It is important to discuss what triggers your asthma with your doctor, as well as how to minimize your exposure to those triggers. Inhalers and other medications may also help you deal with your asthma.

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Asthma Symptoms

Asthma affects the airways to your lungs, making breathing difficult. Intense symptoms may signal that you are experiencing an asthma attack.

  • Inflammation of airways
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness of chest

Asthma Causes

The underlying cause of asthma is unknown, but triggers for attacks are fairly easily understood. Thus, controlling asthma lies in managing triggers, not in curing the affliction. Triggers vary by the individuals, but below are some of the common ones.

  • Allergens: dust, fur, pollen, etc
  • Irritants: pollution, smoke, chemicals, etc
  • Medicines: aspirin, beta blockers
  • Sulfites
  • Colds and respiratory infections
  • Exercise and other physical activity

Asthma Diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose asthma using a lung function test. They may also rely on family and medical history to help diagnose. If you suffer from severe asthma, you may need to see an asthma specialist.

  • See your doctor if you or your child has breathing problems regularly
  • A lung function test will show the capacity for oxygen in your lungs
  • Using this and a medical history, a doctor can diagnose asthma

Asthma Treatment

There is no cure for asthma, but there are management and treatment plans that allow asthma suffers to lead normal lives. Once diagnosed, those with asthma will often be prescribed a 'quick-relief' medicine. For those with mild or moderate asthma, the goal is to wean themselves off of the quick-relief treatment by learning how to manage triggers. People with more severe asthma may be prescribed long-term, daily medication.

  • Quick-relief treatments in pill or inhaler form
  • Understanding and avoiding triggers
  • Working with your doctor to make physical activity a regular possibility
  • In severe cases, daily inhaled corticosteroids or other prescribed drug

Main Asthma Drugs

Singulair ProAir HFA Flovent HFA

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