Asthma

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs where inflammation and resultant narrowing of the airways restricts air from moving into and out of the lungs.  Signs and symptoms may come and go depending on triggers. Common triggers to worsening asthma symptoms include illness, stress, medications or environmental allergens/ irritants. When asthma symptoms get more intense, it is usually called a “flareup” or “attack”. These can become severe enough to require emergency care, and if left untreated, can be fatal. Asthma can be treated by a healthcare provider to help one sustain a normal active lifestyle. 

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing that may linger for more than a week
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Recurrent shortness of breath
  • Breathing difficulty during physical activity or certain times of the year
  • Family history of someone having asthma

Treatment:

If you have signs and symptoms listed above, you will need to seek care from a healthcare provider. There are no treatments available over the counter for asthma. Asthma treatments come in two forms – short acting treatments for prompt relief of symptoms and longer acting medications for control and prevention of symptoms. These must be taken as directed by the provider. The longer term medications should be taken even when you do not have symptoms to prevent asthma attacks from occurring. If you were treated for asthma when you were a child, treatment plans may change as you get older. A provider will help you develop a plan for treatment and prevention of your symptoms and direct you on how and when to use your medications.

Prevention:

  • Avoid known triggers that may cause an attack
  • Take medications as directed by your provider
  • Get the influenza (“flu”) vaccine every year
  • Wash hands to prevent illnesses
  • Develop strategies to reduce stress that may cause a flare up
  • Warm up and cool down when exercising to help airways adjust

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