Judging The Severity Of Asthma
Based on these tests and your symptoms, your doctor may diagnose you with asthma. The next step is to find out if your asthma is severe. This will help them decide your treatment. Youâll have one of these four types of asthma:
If a doctor diagnoses you with asthma, they can prescribe medications to help manage your condition and prevent attacks.
What Are Other Conditions A Doctor Might Test For In Someone With Asthma
There are some medical conditions that might make asthma harder to treat and control. Two of these conditions are sinusitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly called GERD and known as heartburn. If you are diagnosed with asthma, your doctor might also test you for these conditions so that they can be treated.
Sinusitis, also called sinus infection, is an inflammation or swelling of the sinuses due to infection. When the sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, bacteria grow, causing infection and inflammation. Your doctor might order a special X-ray, called a CT scan, to evaluate your sinuses if he or she suspects an infection. Once acute sinusitis is diagnosed, you will be treated with antibiotics for at least 10 to 12 days.
Video: Feno Tests For Asthma
Transcript for “FeNO Tests for Asthma”
0:07 What is a FeNO test and why is it important?FeNO stands for Fractional exhaled Nitric Oxide. FeNO is a very safe, very effective test that can help detect allergic inflammation in your airways. Allergic inflammation is a key part of many peoples asthma and can help to us to make sure youve got the right diagnosis and the right treatments. FeNO is used alongside other tests, but also with a detailed clinical history. And your healthcare professional will use them, alongside FeNO, to help diagnose asthma in adults and for children over five as well.
0:45 Emma: The first time I had the FeNO test, I was slightly apprehensive, but the nurses that were there explained everything to me, made me feel relaxed beforehand, and explained that it may take one or two attempts to get the hang of it, but once you do get the hang of it its very simple. After the test I felt completely fine. The test itself is so mild that is doesnt really have any problems that afterwards you need to take that recovery time. And also, I felt relieved because there was an answer to my symptoms, and I knew I was being put on the correct pathway.
2:24 Emma: Compared to other asthma tests that Ive had, the FeNO test is a lovely, simple breathing test. It doesnt trigger my asthma symptoms, and it is far less hard work than a lot of the other tests are.
How is a FeNO test done?
You may need to do the test a few times to get an accurate result.
When is it used?
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Question : Do Your Symptoms Get Worse When You Go Out In The Garden Or Are Near Pets
You answered yes.
You answered no.
- A worsening of asthma symptoms is known as an asthma exacerbation, or more commonly, as an asthma attack. These are induced by triggers stimulus that cause increased severity of symptoms.
- Triggers are often something airborne that inflame the bronchi when they come into contact with them.
- Common triggers include allergens such as pollen, pet hair, or dust, but an asthma attack can also be triggered by non-allergic reactions, such as to cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, certain foods or medicines, or an abrupt change in the weather.
- An attack can even be brought on by stress a number of changes in the body take place when were under pressure, which can lead to increased chest tightness and heavy breathing.
- The body also releases chemicals in periods of stress, such as leukotrienes and histamines, which can cause inflammation of the airways.
Box 1 Clinical Features Related To Probability Of Asthma In Those With Episodic Symptoms*
Features favouring primary diagnosis of asthma
At least 2 of the following symptoms: wheeze, breathlessness, chest tightness or cough with or without sputum, especially:
if symptoms are worse at night and early in the morning
if symptoms occur in response to exercise, exposure to allergens or exposure to cold air
if symptoms occur after taking ASA or -blockers
History of atopic disorder
Findings of widespread wheeze on auscultation
Low FEV1 or peak expiratory flow that is otherwise unexplained
Peripheral blood eosinophilia that is otherwise unexplained
Features not favouring primary diagnosis of asthma
Prominent dizziness, light-headedness or peripheral tingling
Chronic productive cough in the absence of wheeze or breathlessness
Normal results on physical examination of the chest during symptomatic episodes
Normal peak expiratory flow or spirometry results during symptomatic episodes
Note: ASA = acetylsalicylic acid, FEV1 = forced expiratory volume in 1 second.
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How To Prepare For An Asthma Test
Lung function tests are outpatient procedures. Youll be able to drive yourself to your appointment and can return to your normal activities right away.
There are a few things to do before the day of the test. Its best to talk with your doctor about any recent infections or immunizations youve had since those could impact your results. You can also ask them if there are any medications you need to stop taking before your test and when to stop taking them.
To prepare for general lung function tests, on the day of your testing, its important to avoid:
- wearing tight-fitting clothes
How Do I Find My Personal Best Number
Your personal best peak flow number is the highest peak flow number you have over a two- to three-week period when your asthma is under good control. Good control is when you feel good and do not have any asthma symptoms.
Everyones asthma is different, so your best peak flow may be different from the average number for someone of your height, weight and gender. Your Asthma Action Plan needs to be based on your personal best peak flow number.
To find out your personal best peak flow number, take peak flow readings:
- At least two times a day for two to three weeks
- When you wake up and between noon and 2 p.m.
- Before and after taking quick-relief medicine
- When you get a new peak flow meter, even if it is the same kind as you have used in the past
- As instructed by your doctor
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How Do People With Asthma Monitor Their Condition
Once you have been diagnosed with asthma, you must do everything you can to monitor and manage it. You can do this in multiple ways, but especially by developing a written asthma action plan.
Anasthma action plan is a detailed diary that records symptoms, attacks, and other helpful information. Not only does it help you know what actions to take upon attack, but it also provides an accessible database for both you and your doctor.
Additionally, you can monitor your condition by performing lung tests at home using a portable spirometer. These tests inform you of any breathing problems you may have.
Your Eosinophilic Test Results: What To Expect Next
If youre diagnosed with eosinophilic asthma, your doctor might prescribe one of three treatments designed to target eosinophils, says Chupp. These medications, called biologics, can help lower the levels of eosinophils and resulting inflammation in the lungs, which can reduce asthma attacks. Given as injections or infusions you receive every few weeks at your doctors office, these therapies work by targeting specific molecules involved in the action of eosinophils. Mepolizumab and reslizumab are antibodies against interleukin 5 molecules, while benralizumab is an antibody against the IL-5-receptor-alpha-chain. Studies suggest that these drugs are safe and effective in most people with eosinophilic asthma, says Chupp.
If you have severe or hard-to-treat asthma, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested for eosinophilia. If you do have eosinophilic asthma, it can affect the type of treatment youll need.
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So What Are The Symptoms You Should Watch Out For
Which signs of asthma you might experience differs from person to person and some are more common than others, Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, tells SELF. Its possible that youll have such a mild reaction to one of your personal asthma triggers that you dont take much note of it. But if the effects get worse, they can turn into an asthma attack, which is a potentially life-threatening exacerbation of asthma symptoms. Thats why its so important to know the common signs of asthma, including the more subtle ones.
These are classic asthma signs you should know:
Shortness of breath: This is an obvious complication that happens when you cant get enough oxygen due to the way your airways and their surrounding muscles are reacting to asthma triggers, Sadia Benzaquen, M.D., a pulmonologist and associate professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, tells SELF.
Cough: When an irritant gets into your throat or airways, it stimulates nerves that prompt your brain to make the muscles in your chest and abdomen expel air from your lungs with a cough, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since a sensitivity to irritants can cause asthma symptoms, coughing is a hallmark sign of this condition, says Dr. Benzaquen. In fact, its the most common sign of asthma Dr. Parikh has seen people ignore.
Some people may have these less common signs of asthma:
Why Do Some People Have Difficult To Control Asthma
There are lots of different reasons why you might have asthma thats difficult to control.
- Having other long-term conditions that make it harder to manage your asthma, for example a heart condition or diabetes
- Being a smoker, which makes asthma symptoms worse and stops asthma medicines working as well
- Finding it hard to get into a good routine of taking your inhalers and other asthma medicines regularly
- Not using a good inhaler technique. This means youre not getting the right dose at the right time to help get your asthma symptoms under control.
If youre having symptoms dont ignore them. Theyre a sign that your asthma is not well controlled and that youre at risk of an asthma attack, so its important to do something about them. Make an appointment with your GP or asthma nurse to get your asthma reviewed.
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More Tricks For Preventing The Wheeze
Try these recommendations to reduce your risk of EIB while exercising:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or mask during exercise so the air entering your lungs is warmer and more humid.
- Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before the main workout.
- Try to breathe through your nose. Your nose is great at converting air to the best temp and moisture for your lungs.
- In a study of 64 asthmatic children, positive pressure treatment reduced EIB and lung inflammation.
You dont want to mess around when it comes to breathing. Follow your doctors recommended treatment for EIB, but you may find some of these alternative therapies are helpful too.
- Caffeine before exercise may help prevent airway constriction.
Quiz: Do I Have Asthma Symptoms
If you think you are having an asthma attack you should seek immediate medical attention.
Asthma is a very common condition, affecting 5 million people in the UK. However, despite being so prevalent, some people with the condition may not necessarily realise they have it.
As with other conditions, recognising symptoms when they occur and getting a doctors advice are the first steps towards getting asthma under control.
If you suspect that you could have asthma weve developed a short quiz to help you get a clearer idea of whether you should approach your doctor for further advice.
This quiz should in no way be considered as a replacement for medical consultation with a healthcare professional.
However, if you find yourself answering yes to one or more of the below, we recommend that you speak to your GP so that they can provide guidance on what you should do next.
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Asthma Uk Is Here To Support You
We also have lots of tips on living with asthma, from doing sports and going on holiday, to studying with asthma and having relationships.
Explore our health advice web pages and . The more you know about your asthma, the better youll be able to work with your GP or asthma nurse to manage it well.
Speak to someone about your asthma
You can also call our Helpline on 00 222 5800 to speak to a respiratory nurse specialist. Or you can WhatsApp them on 0307378 606 728.
You can ask them anything from symptoms and treatments to living life without asthma getting in the way.
Next review due February 2024
Question : Are Your Symptoms Worse When You Are At Work
You answered yes.
You answered no.
- Someone who works in an environment where they are exposed to dust, fumes, certain chemicals or animals, and finds their symptoms flare up at work, may have what is known as occupational asthma, which affects around one in ten people who first develop asthma in adulthood.
- Bakers, vets, nurses, hairdressers, engineers and woodworkers are just some of the jobs that can lead to occupational asthma.
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What Are The Treatments For Asthma
If you have asthma, you will work with your health care provider to create a treatment plan. The plan will include ways to manage your asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. It will include
- Strategies to avoid triggers. For example, if tobacco smoke is a trigger for you, you should not smoke or allow other people to smoke in your home or car.
- Short-term relief medicines, also called quick-relief medicines. They help prevent symptoms or relieve symptoms during an asthma attack. They include an inhaler to carry with you all the time. It may also include other types of medicines which work quickly to help open your airways.
- Control medicines. You take them every day to help prevent symptoms. They work by reducing airway inflammation and preventing narrowing of the airways.
If you have a severe attack and the short-term relief medicines do not work, you will need emergency care.
Your provider may adjust your treatment until asthma symptoms are controlled.
Sometimes asthma is severe and cannot be controlled with other treatments. If you are an adult with uncontrolled asthma, in some cases your provider might suggest bronchial thermoplasty. This is a procedure that uses heat to shrink the smooth muscle in the lungs. Shrinking the muscle reduces your airwayâs ability to tighten and allows you to breathe more easily. The procedure has some risks, so itâs important to discuss them with your provider.
Causes And Risk Factors
Nocturnal asthma is believed to be caused by changes in your body that occur at night.
Your circadian rhythm, which is your internal body clock, contributes to nocturnal asthma by causing nighttime shifts in:
- Muscle control
Additionally, obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that interrupts breathing during sleep, is common among people who have asthma. And the conditions can exacerbate one another.
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Approach To Asthma Diagnosis
Asthma should be suspected in patients with recurrent respiratory symptoms, particularly cough, wheeze, chest tightness and dyspnea. Alternative diagnoses should be excluded. An objective lung function test such as spirometry can be used to confirm airway obstruction and to demonstrate reversibility of obstruction with bronchodilator medication.
Good News About Asthma
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.
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What Is Included In An Asthma Test
This exam will include an inspection of the eyes, ears, nose, and throat, as well as possible lung X-rays.
Once the physical exam is complete, the doctor will test your lungs using a series of breathing tests. If your lungs are underperforming, they will determine whether the source of the problem is asthma or something else.
Its important to remember that there are different levels of asthma, so even if you are diagnosed, it may not be as severe as some other cases. Generally speaking, asthma severity ranges from 4 different levels:
Each requires a different level of treatment.