Asthma

What is Asthma?

Asthma describes an inflammatory condition involving the airways of the lungs that causes breathing problems. We know now that there are many types of asthma, including allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma. Most asthma, especially in school aged children, have and allergic cause and are commonly associated with other allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis and eczema. Asthma can also occur in people who do not have allergies. We believe that asthma occurs due to complex interactions among a person’s genes, the environment, and infections. However, the exact mechanism for the development of asthma remains unknown.

symptoms

People with asthma experience symptoms such as:

  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble sleeping due to coughing, wheezing, and/or shortness of breath

Asthma attacks are caused by a variety of triggers.  These can vary from person to person and include: allergens, infections (such as colds and sinus infections), pollution, tobacco smoke, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stress and strong emotions, physical exercise, and exposure to cold air.

The severity of asthma can vary.  Some people have very mild disease that rarely causes symptoms.  Others have asthma that interferes with daily activities and can lead to severe – even life-threatening – attacks.

treatments

Many treatments are available to control asthma and reduce flares including:

  • Long acting (controller) medications:
    • Inhaled steroids
    • Inhaled long-acting beta agonists
    • Combination inhalers (inhaled steroid + long-acting beta agonist)
    • Leukotriene modifiers
  • Short acting (quick relief) medications:
    • Short-acting beta agonists
    • Ipratropium
    • Oral, intramuscular, and IV steroids
  • Treatments to control allergic inflammation:
    • Allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots)
    • Allergy medications
    • Omalizumab (Xolair)

An allergist/immunologist has specialized training and expertise to accurately diagnose your condition and provide relief for your symptoms.