What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic yet reversible condition involving the airways of the lungs. The airways become inflamed usually from either environmental allergies or irritants in the air. Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing especially early in the morning or at night. Others may have more subtle symptoms such as intermittent cough or “chest fullness.”
Establishing a diagnosis of asthma can be difficult as many often have what is termed “allergic asthma” and only have symptoms around certain triggers such as animal dander, dust mite or pollen. Others can have “exercise induced asthma” where symptoms are provoked during moderate exertion or activity.
Securing a diagnosis relies on:
- A detailed history and physical examination.
- An in-office breathing test known as a spirometry can aid with the diagnosis.
- Additionally, allergy skin testing can help identify asthma triggers
Asthma is treated with two kinds of medicines.
- Long-term controller medications or maintenance medications are typically taken daily to prevent symptoms.
- Rescue or quick-relief medicines stop asthma symptoms when they occur.
- If allergy triggers are identified on skin testing then treating these with medications or shots.