Asthma Awareness Month

Author: Ryan Pham, PA-C

May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.  Asthma is a long-term disease which affects the airways of the lungs. Asthma is categorized as an inflammatory disease because the airways narrow with swelling- producing phlegm in the bronchial tubes making it difficult to breathe. Asthma can range from minor to severe where it begins to interfere with daily activities

Asthma can affect any age group, but it’s primarily diagnosed and found in children. It’s common in children for many reasons. Premature birth or low birth weight can lead to asthma since the lungs are not fully developed which makes it easier for the airways to become obstructed. Children with environmental allergies have a high risk of developing asthma because it causes runny noses therefore producing mucus that begins to build up in the lining of the bronchial tubes. Children who are diagnosed frequently with respiratory infections also become prone to the disease.

The symptoms for asthma vary on the severity of the disease; not every person with asthma will have all the symptoms. The most common symptoms are coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, pain, or pressure. A person with minor asthma can just be affected with a persistent cough due to mucus build up.  A person with a severe case of asthma will generally have chest pains due to shortness of breath, along with wheezing caused by the narrowing of the airway.  Some people may go long periods of time without symptoms and then have a sudden asthma attack.  For others, some may have symptoms every day, only experience asthma symptoms during physical activity or have been diagnosed with a viral infection.

There are many ways to prevent asthma.  It’s important to identify what triggers flare ups. Triggers can aggravate the bronchial tubes leading to the beginning of symptoms. Some triggers for people with asthma are air pollution, allergies, cold air, a cold or flu virus, pets, sinusitis, smoke, and fragrances. Although it may not be possible to avoid all these triggers, doctors may prescribe a preventer inhaler known as Flovent, which helps prevent the bronchial tubes from becoming inflamed.

Although there is no cure for asthma, there is a wide range of treatment from holistic care to prescribed medication. There is treatment for short-term relief and long-term control; both types can be controlled with the use of inhalers. Use of inhalers is the most common way for the steroid medication to reach the lungs. Some inhalers may only carry one medication while others carry two (depending on the severity). A common way of treatment for children and elders is the use of a nebulizer that produces a mist that’s inhaled; the same medication is used for both methods. For people with severe asthma, doctors may prescribe Prednisone which is a steroid used as a bronchodilator.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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