About Asthma

Posted on

Feb 09, 2016

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For fifteen million Americans, something as simple as breathing isnt all that simple. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, people with asthma may experience wheezing, coughing, increased mucous production, and difficulty breathing, all as a result of inflammation and/or obstruction of the airways. But while many of us think of asthma as being a disease that begins in childhood, the onset of symptoms can begin well into adulthood and middle age.

Asthma is often triggered by allergens such as dust and pet dander, but symptoms can also be brought on by exercise, cold weather, or illnesses such as pertussis or bronchitis. Some long-term diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, also known as COPD, can cause asthma-like symptoms as well. Tobacco smokers, who are at high risk for developing COPD, often develop asthma, so it is imperative that smokers who experience shortness of breath or tightness in the chest consult with their doctor promptly to receive a proper diagnosis and stabilize their symptoms.

Diagnosing asthma begins with a thorough medical exam and a detailed history of the onset of symptoms. Certain breathing tests can be done by your doctor to come to a more accurate diagnosis. Since asthma is a potentially life-threatening condition, it is important to be aware of its presence and become educated on how to treat any symptoms immediately when they occur.

The first step in treating mild to moderate asthma is by trying to remove the trigger, which is the real culprit, says Dr. Essam Alansari, a board-certified pulmonologist at Watertown Health Center in Watertown, MA. If an asthmatic person knows they are allergic to a certain substance, we will aim to ensure that their environment stays as free of the allergen as possible.

Inhalation treatments are most common, with lightweight, easy-to-carry inhalers or puffers that dispense a measured dose of steroidal or bronchodilator medication prescribed for the majority of asthma patients. An inhaler dose, or puff instantly expands the airways so the patient can breathe deeply and comfortably. Children, first-time users, or older patients may benefit from the addition of a spacer, a specially designed chamber that fits onto the inhaler with a molded mouthpiece, making inhaler use easier and simpler. In more severe cases of asthma, oral medication may be necessary to manage the symptoms.

Asthma can strike at any age, asserts Dr. Alansari. If breathing becomes uncomfortable or labored, he stresses that early diagnosis and intervention are essential to ensure good health and quality of life.

This article was submitted by Elena Kazakevich, Director of Business Development at Synergy Health Centers.

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