Asthma Diagnosis & Treatment
Top 5 Questions We Hear
Afraid Yourself Or A Loved One Has Asthma? You are not alone. According to the CDC, 1 in 14 people has asthma. A serious condition, asthma is the number one reason for missed school days. A common and costly disease across the U.S., it sends 14 million Americans to the asthma doctor and 2 million more to emergency rooms annually, stealing the lives of 3,630 individual every year, making speedy and proper asthma diagnosis and care essential to the health and safety of you and your family.
Fortunately, our caring asthma specialists at Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates are here for you, providing the quality of care you need to guard against the serious effects of this condition.
QUESTION 1: Do You Suffer These Common Asthma Symptoms?
Asthma occurs when bronchiole tubes, the pathways for air in the lungs, become inflamed and constricted, resulting in decreased oxygen levels and increased mucous production, presenting with symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Wheezing – a whistling sound on exhale.
- Shortness of breath/rapid breathing.
- A feeling of tightness in the chest, as if a heavy weight were bearing down on you.
- Coughing that is worsened at night, with exercise, or during respiratory illness or infection.
QUESTION 2: What are the common triggers that cause asthma in Arizona?
Asthma can be induced, or aggravated, by an array of triggers. Here are the top 10 triggers that we often see in patients:
- Allergies: Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and animal dander are the main trigger for 60-70% of asthmatics.
- Respiratory infections: Respiratory illness and infections commonly trigger asthma symptoms.
- Exercise: Many people with chronic asthma suffer flare-ups during exercise, which typically present 5 to 20 minutes following exercise.
- Cold air: Cold, dry air can trigger asthma symptoms – or worsen exercise induced asthma. Mouth-breathing can worsen these symptoms.
- Weather changes: Thunderstorms and high humidity are also linked to asthma symptoms.
- Pollutants: Including tobacco smoke, wood smoke, outdoor pollution, mold, and more can trigger an asthma attack.
- Strong odors/scents: Including perfumes, chemical-laden cleaners and air fresheners.
- Stress and emotions: Strong emotions resulting in rapid breathing (hyperventilation) can induce asthma attacks.
- Gastric reflux: Though it is unknown why, asthma and acid reflux often occur together, and reflux can worsen symptoms.
- Food: Food and food additives also trigger asthma attacks.
QUESTION 3: How do you know it’s really asthma and how will my asthma be diagnosed?
Diagnosis of asthma involves a complete medical history, including severity of symptoms, triggers, family history, and a physical exam by your asthma doctor, including a spirometry or peak flow meter test to ascertain how much air you can blow out of your lungs after taking a deep breath.
QUESTION 4: How Is Asthma Treated?
Your asthma doctor will prescribe treatments with a multi-tiered approach, including:
- Quick-relief medications…Such as albuterol and levoalbuterol to quickly open airways and reduce wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath following triggers. (Warning: If you are using quick-relief medications more than twice per week/2 nights per month, your asthma is NOT under control.)Important: Quick relief medications do not build immunity against allergies or asthma. -that is accomplished through: allergy injections, Anti-Ige treatments and vaccines
- Asthma control medications…Including inhaled and oral corticosteroids, bronchodilators, and leukotriene modifiers which treat inflammation.
- Allergy injections (immunotherapy)…To build immunity against allergen triggers.
- Anti-IgE treatment…Including Xolair (Omalizumab) for those 12 and over with severe asthma, to block antibodies that cause allergic reactions and stop allergy-induced asthma attacks before they begin.
- Vaccines…Such as the flu and pneumococcal vaccines, to protect against respiratory disease and infections that can induce or worsen asthma symptoms.
QUESTION 5: What is usually involved in an asthma treatment action plan?
Asthma is a complex disease and often takes time and patience to treat. This is why a quality plan should developed with your asthma doctor , put in writing, and include the following:
- Daily treatment
- Medication regimens
- Long-term management plans
- Tips on addressing worsening asthma symptoms or attacks
- Information on when to call the doctor and when to go to the emergency room
- Copies for all caregivers (school, childcare, sports, camps)