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How Do You Know If You Get Asthma

How Is It Treated

How do I know if I have asthma?

There are two parts to treating asthma, which are outlined in your asthma action plan. The goals are to:

  • Control asthma over the long term. Your asthma action plan tells you which medicine to take. It also helps you track your symptoms and know how well the treatment is working. Many people take controller medicineâusually an inhaled corticosteroidâevery day. Taking it every day helps to reduce the swelling of the airways and prevent attacks. Your doctor will show you how to use your inhaler correctly. This is very important so you get the right amount of medicine to help you breathe better.
  • Treat asthma attacks when they occur. Your asthma action plan tells you what to do when you have an asthma attack. It helps you identify triggers that can cause your attacks. You use quick-relief medicine, such as albuterol, during an attack.

If you need to use the quick-relief inhaler more often than usual, talk to your doctor. This may be a sign that your asthma is not controlled and can cause problems.

Asthma attacks can be life-threatening, but you may be able to prevent them if you follow a plan. Your doctor can teach you the skills you need to use your asthma action plan.

Diagnosis Of Asthma In Children

Diagnosing asthma in children younger than 5 years can be difficult because children cough or wheeze for many different reasons. Take your child to the doctor if:

  • the wheezing happens more than once with or without an illness
  • constant coughing or bouts of coughing become worse at night
  • you are concerned about any breathing problems in your child.

When To See A Gp

See a GP if you think you or your child may have asthma.

Several conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and correct treatment.

The GP will usually be able to diagnose asthma by asking about symptoms and carrying out some simple tests.

Find out more about how asthma is diagnosed.

Also Check: How To Avoid Asthma At Night

How Do You Monitor Asthma Symptoms

You should keep track of your asthma symptom. Its an important piece of managing the disease. Your healthcare provider may ask to use a peak flow meter. This device measures how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. It can help your provider make adjustments to your medication. It also tells you if your symptoms are getting worse.

Good News About Asthma

Asthma attacks

Unlike other respiratory diseases like bronchitis and emphysema, asthma does not tend to cause permanent damage.

There are excellent prescription medications available from your physician and pharmacist to treat asthma either by relieving symptoms or by controlling them on a long term basis and preventing attacks .

You can learn to monitor and predict asthma attacks or prevent them altogether.

You can find out what there is in the environment or in your lifestyle that might bring on or trigger an asthma attack or symptoms and take measures to minimize it.

Asthma is not contagious you cannot pass it on to someone else like the flu or a cold.

Understanding this health condition and working with your physician on a treatment and prevention plan will give you the power to take part in your own treatment and enjoy a healthy, active life without fear of disability or being hospitalized.

The bottom line is that what you thought was a frightening condition can become nothing more than an occasional inconvenience. All the good news above will become more meaningful as you continue reading the information in this site.

Read more:

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When To See A Specialist About Your Asthma

Asthma is not always easy to diagnose, Fineman says, but you should see your doctor if youre having repeated episodes of wheezing and coughing or shortness of breath. If you’re diagnosed with the condition, work with your doctor to develop an asthma management and action plan.

Although your primary care doctor may be able to diagnose and treat your asthma, if your symptoms dont respond to a first-line therapy of inhaled corticosteroids and short-acting bronchodilators, Asciuto recommends that you see a lung specialist or allergy and asthma specialist.

Disrupted Sleep Difficulty Exercising And Some Other Signs Can Indicate You Might Have Asthma

Along with its short-term symptoms, asthma can cause other problems or disruptions.

Because symptoms often become worse at night, asthma can disrupt sleep or cause insomnia. Poor sleep, along with daytime asthma symptoms, can make it hard to complete work or school tasks, as well as day-to-day chores.

Asthma can make exercise challenging or impossible, which may put you at risk for a host of other medical problems.

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Over time, if asthma is not properly treated or controlled with medication, it can cause airway remodeling, when the airways become scarred or permanently deformed. This can make breathing and treatment even more difficult.

Asthma is also associated with a greater risk for anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. If you see patterns of any of these problems or complications, its important to talk to your doctor to get to the root cause of the problem.

And remember, asthma symptoms do not look the same in everyone. Each person with asthma is unique and so are their symptoms, Dr. Dinakar says.

In some people with asthma, symptoms are very mild and seldom show up. In others, symptoms may be severe but situational, for example, after running hard or while going to bed. In others, symptoms are always around and may make everyday life difficult.

With additional reporting by Quinn Phillips and Markham Heid.

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Why Do People Get Asthma

Research has yet to show a definitive cause of asthma. However, researchers have determined several risk factors that can lead to asthma development.

Family History and Genetics

Children of mothers with asthma are three times more likely to suffer from asthma, and 2.5 times more likely if the father has asthma. More than 30 genes have been linked to asthma so far, and gene-gene interactions, gene-environment interactions and epigenetic modifications also play a part. Genetic differences also play a role in differences in response to treatment.

Allergies

People are more likely to have asthma if they have certain types of allergies, such ones which can affect the eyes and nose. However, not everyone who has allergies will get asthma and not everyone who has asthma is affected by allergies. Respiratory allergies and some types of asthma are related to an antibody called immunoglobulin E , which the immune system produces in response to allergens. To protect the body, the IgE causes allergic reactions that can affect the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin.

Premature Birth

Children born before 37 weeks are at increased risk of developing asthma later in life.

Lung Infections

Babies or small children may be at risk of developing asthma later in life if they had certain lung infections at a very early age.

Occupational Exposures

Hormones

Women can develop adult-onset asthma during or after menopause.

Environment Air Quality

Obesity

How Do You Know If Your Asthma Is Mild Moderate Or Severe

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

Asthma severity is typically classified as intermittent, mild, moderate, and severe. While there are several factors that play into the classification, here are some general guidelines:

  • Intermittent asthma typically means your symptoms occur less than twice a week.
  • If you have mild asthma, these symptoms might happen twice a week or more, but not daily.
  • With moderate asthma, you can experience symptoms every day, but you wont regularly have multiple flares.
  • Severe asthma is uncontrolled, meaning symptoms kick in virtually every day, several times a day despite regular medication.

While mild and moderate asthma usually improves with treatment, thats not typically the case with severe asthma.

Also Check: What Does Having An Asthma Attack Feel Like

How Will The Doctor Determine Which Type Of Asthma I Have

In general, a doctor will establish your type of asthma by:

  • Examining your medical history, including your family history
  • Performing a physical examination to inspect your upper airway for signs of allergic rhinitis, check your chest for deformity, or determine the presence of polyps
  • Measuring the amount of air you can breathe in and out of your lungs with a spirometry or lung function test
  • Determining the age of onset
  • Discovering the types of cells involved in inflammation
  • Looking at the results of allergy tests
  • Examining the characteristics of your lung and tissue
  • Observing your responses to past medications

How Can I Prevent And Treat Asthma Symptoms

There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed. There are two steps to controlling asthma: taking medicines and avoiding or limiting asthma triggers.

To prevent asthma symptoms:

  • Avoid or limit contact with your asthma triggers andallergens. Use AAFAs Healthier Home Checklist to identify asthma triggers and allergens in your home and make your indoor environment healthier.
  • Get vaccinated. Respiratory infections like colds and the flu can worsen asthma. Get a flu vaccine every year. Keep your lungs healthy by getting other vaccinations as recommended.
  • Create an Asthma Action Plan with your doctor. Follow it when you have symptoms. If you are having trouble staying in the Green/Go Zone, your asthma may not be well-controlled. Talk with your doctor about your treatment plan.
  • Take your asthma medicines as directed. If your doctor prescribed a medicine to control your asthma, take it as directed. This may be as needed or every day. Follow your Asthma Action Plan.
  • Take care of your general health. It can be hard to take care of your health but doing so can help you better manage asthma. Try to get plenty of sleep and exercise. Eat healthy foods as much as possible, stay hydrated, and find ways to manage stress.

To treat sudden asthma symptoms:

Asthma Medicines: Control and Quick-Relief or a Combination

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May Hurt: Too Much Food

When you eat more calories than you burn, your body stores the extra in fat cells. You can really start to pack on the pounds if you do that too much. If you become obese , youre more likely to get asthma and it could make your symptoms worse. In addition, you may not respond as well to typical treatments like inhaled steroids that stop an asthma attack.

Explaining Your Symptoms To Your Gp

What to do if someone youâre with is having an asthma attack

Its a good idea to start a diary of your symptoms before speaking to your GP. Taking note of when symptoms flare-up may help you to understand your triggers. This diary will then help your GP to understand and properly assess your condition. You could also try filming your symptoms if they are hard to describe.

There are several different tests for asthma – so your GP wont be able to diagnose you straightaway. Our advice on diagnosing asthma explains this process in more detail.

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How Is Asthma Diagnosed

Asthma is diagnosed by a spectrum of variables, not just one thing, Dr. Ogden says. Your doctor will look at your clinical history and symptoms, pulmonary function testing, and response to medication.

One thing you will need for diagnosis is a big inhale and exhale, or several. Among the breathing tests that are used to measure how well your lungs work are:

  • A spirometry test diagnoses asthma severity and measures how well treatment is working. You take a deep breath and blow into a sensor to measure the amount of air your lungs can hold and the speed of the air you inhale or exhale.
  • A fractional exhaled nitric oxide test measures how much inflammation you have in your lungs.
  • Peak expiratory flow tests measure how fast you can blow out air using maximum effort. This test can be done during spirometry or by breathing into a separate device, like a tube.

Youre Coughing And Wheezing More During The Day

Another sign that your severe asthma may be getting worse is if youre coughing or wheezing more often than usual.

Talk with your doctor about adjusting your treatment plan if you constantly feel like youre about to cough. Also speak with them if you find yourself wheezing with a whistle-like sound more than once a day.

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Common Symptoms Of Asthma Include:

  • difficulty breathing, feeling out of breath or as though you can’t get enough air out of your lungs
  • a tight feeling in your chest like something is squeezing or sitting on your chest
  • wheezing
  • a cough, which can be worse at night or in the morning.

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor so they can assess if this is due to asthma or something else.

Severe asthma symptoms

From time to time, your symptoms may get gradually or suddenly worse. Seek urgent medical help if you have any of these severe symptoms:

  • it is difficult to talk
  • your lips and/or fingernails have a bluish tinge
  • your nostrils flare when you breathe
  • the skin around your neck and/or ribs pulls in when you breathe
  • your heart is racing
  • it is hard to walk.

For severe asthma symptoms, you should use your reliever inhaler immediately and call an ambulance on 111 or go to your nearest Accident & Emergency clinic.

There Are Many Different Types Of Asthma Brought On By Many Different Triggers

Diagnosing Asthma: Mild, Moderate, and Severe

If youre struggling with asthma symptoms trouble breathing, a persistent cough or tightness in the chest an allergist can help you take control by providing a diagnosis and identifying the underlying causes.

Learn about the triggers and treatment for allergic asthma and how an allergist can help you manage allergy and asthma symptoms.

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My Personal Experience With Recognizing Warning Signs

I can actually give an example here. I personally have a severe allergy to dust mites. When exposed to them I start sneezing, my chin itches, and I get chest tightness. These are my early warning signs. By heeding them, and getting away from dust mites right away, the symptoms usually go away on their own. However, if I wait too long, an asthma attack occurs, requiring me to resort to my Asthma Action Plan. So, I have learned through my own asthma experiences what my early warning signs are, and what to do when I observe them.

Your job as an asthmatic is to learn your early warning signs and work with your doctor on an asthma management plan for what to do when you observe them. If actually wrote a more in-depth article on this subject if you are interested: “Symptoms and Signs: How Asthma Communicates.”

Early Warning Signs Vary But May Include: 3

  • Frequent cough, especially at night
  • Losing your breath easily or shortness of breath during the course of the day
  • Feeling very tired or weak when exercising
  • Wheezing or coughing after exercise
  • Feeling tired, easily upset, grouchy, or moody or being uncharacteristically irritable
  • Decreases or changes in your peak expiratory flow rate
  • Signs of a cold, upper respiratory infection, or allergies
  • Trouble sleeping

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to apply to all our readers. These particular early signs tend to be the most common ones reported. Your own early warning signs will be unique to your individual asthma condition. If you are attuned to your own early warning signs, it can go a long way towards helping to maintain control over your asthma condition.

If you have early warning signs or symptoms, you may be able to prevent the exacerbation or poor control by taking more asthma medication. This should all be described in your own individualized Asthma Action Plan.4

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Treatment For Asthma Emergencies In Children

An asthma attack can quickly become an asthma emergency, but if you take quick action, you can reduce the risk of this happening. So, if the symptoms of an asthma attack appear, follow your childs asthma action plan.

If your child is experiencing a severe or life-threatening asthma attack, call triple zero for an ambulance and then start asthma first aid.:

  • Sit the child upright.
  • Give 4 puffs of reliever medication , taking 4 breaths for each puff. Use a spacer and mask if one is available.
  • Wait 4 minutes if the child still cannot breathe normally, give 4 more puffs.
  • Continue to give 4 separate puffs of reliever medication, taking 4 breaths for each puff, every 4 minutes until the ambulance arrives.

What Is Moderate Persistent Asthma

Nursing Question: Asthma Medication

People with moderate persistent asthma have asthma symptoms every day.1

Some of your daily activities are limited by your asthma. You wake up at least once a week because of asthma symptoms. You use rescue medicines every day to control your asthma symptoms. Your lung spirometry tests will show decreased lung function.1

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How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma

Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, eczema and other lung diseases.

Your provider may order spirometry. This test measures airflow through your lungs and is used to diagnose and monitor your progress with treatment. Your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray, blood test or skin test.

Some Asthma Symptoms Are Only Present During An Asthma Attack

An asthma attack is when a persons asthma symptoms become worse or more noticeable. During an attack, the muscles around the airways tighten more than usual, and the airways produce an overabundance of mucus.

The typical signs of an asthma attack can include any of the following:

Wheezing This refers to a whistling or squeaky, almost musical sound during breathing.

Shortness of Breath This simply means feeling like you cant get enough air into your lungs.

Rapid Breathing In response to not getting enough air in each breath, your body may speed up your rate of breathing.

Coughing A cough during an asthma attack may contain phlegm.

Chest Tightness This can take the form of pain, pressure, or feeling like something is squeezing or sitting on your chest.

Not everyone with asthma experiences symptoms the same way, and asthma symptoms can differ between attacks. Asthma attacks require immediate treatment with a rescue or quick-relief inhaler or other medication recommended by your doctor.

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