What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition when the airways of your lungs become swollen. The swollen airways are restricted and, therefore, limit the amount of air that you are able to inhale.
What Causes Asthma?
Asthma is generally a genetic condition, passed down to you from your parents, however, sometimes there is no family history of it. People who have asthma typically have more sensitive airways, so things called “triggers” can cause irritation and tightening of the airways.
Some examples of these triggers are:
Allergies – People with allergies are more likely to have asthma. Common allergens that trigger asthma include pollen from plants, mold, animal dander, and dust. All of these can cause sneezing and irritation of the eyes. If the lungs become irritated as well, it can result in an asthma attack.
Respiratory infections – Regular occurring sinus or lung infections can cause asthma. These infections often trigger longer periods of wheezing or shortness of breath.
Other irritants that can cause asthma include:
- Exhaust from vehicles
- Chemicals/odors in the air (cleaners, paints, perfume, garden spray, etc.)
- Dust and mold
- Tobacco smoke
- Stress and exercise (learn more here)
- Heart or blood pressure medications
- Sulfites in food
- Weather changes
How Is Asthma Diagnosed?
Asthma is diagnosed with a breathing test. If you think you might have asthma, you should visit with a health care provider about your symptoms – and if it is determined that you have symptoms of asthma, you will likely be asked to do a breathing test.
How Is Asthma Treated?
Once asthma has been diagnosed, you will work with your healthcare provider to come up with a treatment plan. Treatment plans often include medications (and how and when to take them), lifestyle management to help you track and avoid triggers, and peak flow monitoring which helps to determine if your breathing is getting better.
Visiting your healthcare provider on a regular basis will help them to monitor your asthma and take the proper action for treatment if it worsens or improves.
Other things that will help you control your asthma include:
- Making healthy lifestyle choices (eating healthy and regular exercise)
- Preventing viral infections like the flu and pneumonia
- Learning to cope with stress
If you think you might have asthma, give us a call today to schedule an appointment.