The Basics Of Diagnosing Asthma
Your doctor will probably start your examination by delving into your past medical history and asking whether any of your relatives have allergies or asthma. You’ll also be asked to describe your symptoms, their severity, and what, if anything, is;triggering;them.
Triggers could include cold air, dust, hairsprays, perfumes, household cleaner vapors, cigarette or cigar smoke, and air pollution, Asciuto says.
Doctors also try to narrow down the list of culprits by asking these additional questions:
- Is your cough worse at night?
- Do you have more symptoms when youre at home or at work?
- Do you have other health problems that could be causing these symptoms, such as a;sinus infection;or;acid reflux?
Next, your doctor will listen to your breathing with a stethoscope and may order one or more of these diagnostic tests:
Its also important to note that you can have asthma without experiencing any of the hallmark;symptoms. There’s no single patient profile for asthma, says Dr. Fineman. “Some will have more coughing, some more wheezing, and some have more problems breathing with exercise, he says.
Spacers And Asthma Medication
For all people with asthma, it is recommended that;a;spacer device is used when;asthma;medication;is;delivered via a;puffer;. A spacer;is;a specially designed container that attaches to a puffer and has its own mouthpiece to breathe through.;
Using a spacer helps the medication to go where it is supposed to into the small airways in the lungs rather than ending up coating your childs mouth, tongue and throat. It is much more effective than using a puffer on its own.;Using a spacer with a puffer can reduce or;prevent side effects from inhaled medication.;
Babies and young children may need a spacer with a special face mask attached to inhale asthma medicines effectively. These fit tightly around your childs mouth and nose to make sure none of the medicine leaks out. Talk to your pharmacist for advice and to have your technique checked.;
Watch this Asthma Australia video which shows;you;how to use a spacer with a face mask.;
Exercising Safely With Asthma
Sometimes exercise can trigger asthma symptoms to worsen. This is believed to be due to the fact that you breathe faster and through your mouth while you exercise, and that the air going into your lungs might be colder and drier than usual. For some people, the change in temperature can cause the airways to narrow, triggering asthma symptoms. One way of reducing the risk of exercise triggering asthma is to ensure you warm up well beforehand and cool down property after exercising. Or if cold air is problematic, try indoor forms of exercise instead.
Tips for exercising safely with asthma:
- Always have your reliever inhaler with you.
- Be aware of your asthma triggers and avoid them where possible. For example, if youre affected by pollen or heat, avoid exercising in these circumstances.
- If youre exercising with other people, tell them you have asthma and explain what to do if you have an asthma attack.
- If you do experience symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness that doesnt calm down when you stop moving or coughing when exercising, stop and take your reliever inhaler.
- Remember to warm up and cool down.
- If cold weather sets off your asthma symptoms, stick to indoor exercise.
- Reduce exercise if you have a viral infection, such as a cold, as infections can make asthma symptoms worse.
If youre in any doubt about which forms of exercise are best for you and your asthma symptoms, speak to your doctor for advice.
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If Your Asthma Symptoms Are Caused By Allergies Take Steps To Control Knownor Potential Triggers In Your Environment
Allergy-proof your house for dust, mold, cockroaches, and other common indoor allergens to which you are allergic.
;Reduce your outdoor activities when the pollen count or ozone level is high.
;Choose foods that dont contribute to your asthma or allergy symptoms.
;Evaluate your workplace for possible allergens and take the necessary steps to reduce your exposure to them.
In order to determine relevant triggers, you may want to seek consultation with an allergist who can further define these triggers.
In addition, anyone with asthma should consider getting an annual flu shot. Older adults also should talk with their internist about getting a pneumonia vaccination.
What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
- Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
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When To Get Medical Advice
See a GP if you have persistent symptoms of COPD,;particularly if youre over 35 and smoke or used to smoke.
Find out more about tests for COPD.
While theres currently no cure for COPD, the sooner treatment begins, the less chance there is of severe lung damage.
Find out more about how COPD is treated.
Page last reviewed: 20 September 2019 Next review due: 20 September 2022
Can Asthma Be Cured
There is still much research that needs to be done to fully understand how to prevent, treat and cure asthma. Asthma Canadas National Research Program is committed to supporting leading asthma researchers and graduate student researchers working to expand our knowledge and one day, unlock a cure.;
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How Can I Be Better Prepared To Manage Asthma What Is An Asthma Management Plan
Unfortunately, asthma cannot be cured. This makes it crucial to have your doctor create an asthma action plan to help you stay in control of your asthma.
Your asthma action plan will outline:
- What medication do I need?
- How can I tell if your asthma is getting worse?
- What should I do if my symptoms get worse?
- What can I have an asthma attack?
If your doctor develops an asthma action plan for you, its important to follow your asthma action plan closely. Make sure you carry and take your medications, such as an asthma inhaler.
What Is Asthma Anyway
First up, a little anatomy refresher: Your airways, which extend between your nose and mouth and your lungs, have the very important job of carrying air in and out of your body, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . When you have asthma, triggers like animal fur, pollen, mold, cold air, cigarette smoke, exercise, and respiratory infections like colds cause your airways to get inflamed, according to the NHLBI. That inflammation can cause swelling, which in turn can prompt the muscles around your airways to tighten, making it hard to get air in and out. At the same time, your airways might also expel more mucus than they usually do, making it even harder to breathe.
Experts dont know exactly what causes some people to get asthma when others dont, but its pretty safe to assume that its probably a combination of environmental factors and genetic factors. For example, if someone in your immediate family has asthma, youre more likely to have it too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Beyond that, the general cause is a stronger-than-normal response from your immune system to certain triggers, which is why you get all that inflammation when people without asthma dont, says the NHLBI.
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How Running Benefits Asthma
You might be drawn to any of a number of aspects of running. Some like that it allows them to exercise outdoors with others; others feel it helps them focus on themselves and clear their head. Still others love the endorphin rush and positive feelings it produces.
Running is a type of exercise that can also help you achieve several physical health benefits, including building endurance and helping prevent unhealthy weight gain. These outcomes are beneficial to anyone, particularly if you have asthma.
Adults and children who have asthma can improve aerobic fitness, achieve better asthma control, and have an improved quality of life by participating in routine exercise.
If you are enthusiastic about running, there are good reasons to follow your interest. And if youre hesitant, note that research shows that the prevalence of asthma among recreational and elite athletes is at least as high, if not higher, than the prevalence of asthma among non-athletes.
Signs Of Poor Asthma Control
- You have frequent breathing difficulties and find yourself coughing or wheezing most days
- Your asthma impacts your sleep; if your asthma symptoms wake you up or keep you up at night your asthma isnt controlled
- You cant exercise or exert yourself physically without experiencing breathing difficulties
- You frequently miss work or school due to asthma
- You use your reliever medication more than 3 times per week
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Signs You Actually Have Severe Asthma
Breathing is just one of those things you take for granted until it feels like every inhale or exhale is a struggle. Unfortunately, people with severe asthma have to deal with breathing issues way more often than anyone should, and it can be completely terrifying.
Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects the airways that extend from your nose and mouth to your lungs, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . When youre exposed to triggers like animal fur, pollen, mold, exercise, and respiratory infections, these airways can narrow, restricting your airflow. This can then make the muscles surrounding your airways constrict, making it even harder to breathe, and cause your airways to produce more mucus than normal, further compounding the problem. All together, this can lead to asthma symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing , and chest tightness or pain, according to the NHLBI.
Like most health conditions, asthma severity runs along a spectrum, Emily Pennington, M.D., a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. Some people have cases where they experience minor symptoms here and there . Others can have asthma that is basically an ever-present problem and might result in scary asthma attacks, which is when symptoms ramp up in severity and can even become life-threatening.
Learn How To Easily Track Your Inhaler Usage
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When you sign up, youll also get emails filled with valuable information on controlling your asthma, additional tips for talking to your doctor, and patient testimonials from others just like you.
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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.
Tips For When You Dont Have An Inhaler
Mild to moderate asthma attacks can occur at inopportune times. You may be able to manage your asthma more effectively with these tips. If these dont work CALL AN AMBULANCE.
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Ruling Out Other Possibilities
You may be tested again after using a bronchodilator like an albuterol inhaler. If the inhaler doesnt improve symptoms, you might have exercise-induced vocal cord dysfunction instead of EIB. Vocal cord dysfunction symptoms will also stop as soon as exercise is stopped.
Bronchial hyperresponsiveness can also mimic EIB when the airways overreact to inhaling allergens or airborne irritants, causing cough and phlegm production.
There are a number of prescription medications that can help control exercise-induced asthma. Heres your cheat sheet for medication options.
How Is Asthma Treated
Take your medicine exactly as your doctor tells you and stay away from things that can trigger an attack to control your asthma.
Everyone with asthma does not take the same medicine.
You can breathe in some medicines and take other medicines as a pill. Asthma medicines come in two typesquick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, visit your doctor to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they dont help you while you are having an asthma attack.
Asthma medicines can have side effects, but most side effects are mild and soon go away. Ask your doctor about the side effects of your medicines.
Remember you can control your asthma. With your doctors help, make your own asthma action plan. Decide who should have a copy of your plan and where he or she should keep it. Take your long-term control medicine even when you dont have symptoms.
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How To Tell If My Cough Is From Coronavirus Or Asthma
Unfortunately, people can have both asthma and coronavirus. Here are a set of tips to help understand the symptoms that you feel.
When Bronchitis Leads To Asthma
Also, more severe cases of bronchitis could even lead to asthma. The reason for this is that bronchitis is typically a result of a bacterial or viral infection. In most individuals, bronchitis will go away once the infection is cleared.
If it doesnt, its highly likely that bronchitis will become asthma. This is a common cause of adult-onset asthma. Put simply, and the infection caused the airways to change in a manner that triggered classic symptoms of asthma.
The bottom line is, while asthma and bronchitis are very closely related, they are different lung conditions. And even if its very easy to mistake asthma for bronchitis and vice versa, knowing exactly what makes them different from each other can help make certain that you get accurate treatment for whatevers causing your symptoms.
About The Author:
Stacey Smith is a freelance health writer. She is passionate to write about womens health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology and nutrition and provide in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.
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