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If you have a chronic disease, you know that having a good understanding of your disease state is important to managing it. Asthma is one of the most common chronic disorders that affect the lungs. It is an inflammatory disease that causes changes in the airways. Let’s take time to review some basic information about asthma to better recognize and manage the disease.
Asthma causes three main changes in the airways of the lungs. The lung linings of the airways get swollen and inflamed. The smooth muscles surrounding the airways also get tighten leading to bronchoconstriction, which reduces the width of the airways. Asthma also causes excess mucus production that further narrows the airways. A professional health care provider can diagnose asthma through careful assessment of symptoms, medical history, physical examination and spirometry. Spirometry is a breathing test used to help your physician diagnose and assess the severity of your asthma.
There are many substances you know that may trigger your asthma and cause different symptoms. Triggers of asthma include colds or upper respiratory infections, pet dander, dust mites, mold and yeast spores, pollen, foods, and smoke. The most common signs and symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and persistent coughing especially at night or after exercise.
Without proper treatment, asthma may cause permanent changes. Asthma is a disease that cannot be cured but can be controlled with appropriate therapies. If you are diagnosed with asthma, you should have a written Asthma Action Plan outlining details of your asthma, your medications and symptoms, and actions cases of emergency. Your treatment plan and the type of provider you see is based on the severity of your asthma. Moderate to severe asthma will require a specialist provider such as a pulmonologist and/or immunologist. There are a number of asthma medications that work in different ways to help you manage your asthma. There are quick acting drugs, such as albuterol, which help you relax the airway smooth muscle and have immediate effects. These quick acting medications can be used as needed for asthma attacks and are important in these emergency situations. The cornerstone of asthma treatment is the use of steroid inhaler medications that are taken every day consistently. The purpose of the steroid inhaler drugs are to reduce the airway inflammation. It is important to rinse out your mouth after using steroid inhalers to prevent fungal infections in the mouth. Other medications are leukotriene modifiers or long acting beta agonist drugs that can also help manage asthma. A good way you can monitor your asthma is to measure your peak flow every day and record your best numbers.
If you experience asthma then you should speak with a specialist with Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Medical Group by calling 805-658-9500. Our experts will be able to help diagnose and manage your condition. Don’t wait to find the best treatment plan for your asthma!