And Heres What You Can Expect With Treatment Which Is Generally Either Long
One of the most important ways to treat asthma is to avoid being exposed to your triggers, Dr. Wilgus says. Of course, that can feel impossible if your trigger is something thats seemingly everywhere, like dust or pollen. Though you can definitely take steps to reduce your exposure to those, avoiding them entirely is tough. Luckily, there are medications that can help when youve done everything you can trigger-wise.
Asthma medications generally fall into two categories: long-term preventive medications and fast-acting drugs that can help when youre having an asthma attack or on your way to one. Long-term preventive medications like allergy medications and inhaled anti-inflammatory corticosteroids are designed to help control your asthma so youre less likely to have an asthma attack in the first place, the Mayo Clinic says. Quick-relief medications , like short-acting beta agonists that you use via an inhaler, can help relax your airways when theyre acting up enough that your asthma is noticeably worse.
Whatever you do, dont resign yourself to living with asthma symptoms like trouble breathing and coughing all the time. Asthma is a very controllable illness as long as the signs and symptoms are not ignored, Dr. Parikh says.
Childhood Vs Adult Symptoms
Children and adults generally have similar symptoms. But, identifying asthma symptoms in children can be more difficult, especially in younger children who may not be able to tell you how they are feeling.
Here are some things to watch for in your child that could indicate asthma:
- Not being able to keep up with other children while running around
- Having a hard time catching their breath or breathing faster than other children who are doing the same thing
- Looks like they have a cold, which could actually be asthma
- Coughing, especially at night
- Feel restless, irritable and/or very tired
What to do:
STEP 1:;Immediately use a fast-acting reliever inhaler . Use a spacer if provided.STEP 2:;Check your symptoms. If they are gone, you can go back to your normal activities. If they symptoms get worse or do not improve within 10 minutes, this is an emergency. Follow the steps below.
Complete Pulmonary Function Testing
Your asthma care provider may want to determine your lung volumes and diffusing capacity. This is often done if your asthma diagnosis is unclear. The test requires you to sit inside a special box that helps determine how much air you breathe in and out.
- Lung Volumes: Your asthma care provider may order body plethysmography test to determine your lung volumes. Asthma may cause certain changes in lung volumes that will assist your asthma care provider in diagnosing or treating your asthma.
- Diffusion Capacity: Diffusion capacity measures how well oxygen flows from the lungs into your blood. Poor diffusion indicates damage to the lung where the oxygen and blood meet in the lungs. Diffusion capacity is usually normal in asthmatics.
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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:
When Should You Have A Spirometry Test
Children older than age five, and adults of any age, who have asthma-like symptoms should have a;spirometry test. The healthcare provider should also do a physical exam and a full medical history. If the test shows that you have asthma, your doctor;should prescribe asthma medicine. Then you should be retested four to six weeks later. If your test results improve, your treatment is working. You may even be able to take less medicine. If your symptoms get worse, you should have another spirometry test. If your symptoms are controlled, you should have a test at least once every year or two.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
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What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of asthma can be mild or severe. You may have mild attacks now and then, or you may have severe symptoms every day. Or you may have something in between. How often you have symptoms can also change. When you have asthma, you may:
- Wheeze, making a loud or soft whistling noise when you breathe in and out.
- Cough a lot.
- Feel tightness in your chest.
- Feel short of breath.
- Have trouble sleeping because of coughing or having a hard time breathing.
- Quickly get tired during exercise.
Your symptoms may be worse at night.
Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening and need emergency treatment.
What To Think About
One of the best tools for managing asthma is a daily controller medicine that has a corticosteroid . But some people worry about taking steroid medicines because of myths they’ve heard about them. If you’re making a decision about a steroid inhaler, it helps to know the facts.
At the start of asthma treatment, the number and dosage of medicines are chosen to get the asthma under control. Your doctor may start you at a higher dose within your asthma classification so that the inflammation is controlled right away. After the asthma has been controlled for several months, the dose of the last medicine added is reduced to the lowest possible dose that prevents symptoms. This is known as step-down care. Step-down care is believed to be a better way to control inflammation in the airways than starting at lower doses of medicine and increasing the dose if it is not enough.footnote 10
Because quick-relief medicine quickly reduces symptoms, people sometimes overuse these medicines instead of using the slower-acting long-term medicines. But overuse of quick-relief medicines may have harmful effects, such as reducing how well these medicines will work for you in the future.footnote 11
You may have to take more than one medicine each day to manage your asthma. Help yourself remember when to take each medicine, such as taping a note to your refrigerator to remind yourself.
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Other Tests You May Need If You Have Asthma
Even if your lung function tests are normal, your doctor may order other tests to see what could be causing your asthma symptoms.
- Gas and diffusion tests can measure how well your blood absorbs oxygen and other gases from the air you breathe. You breathe in a small amount of a gas, hold your breath, then blow out. The gas you exhale is analyzed to see how much your blood has absorbed.
- X-rays may tell if there are any other problems with your lungs, or if asthma is causing your symptoms. High-energy radiation creates a picture of your lungs. You may be asked to briefly hold your breath while you stand in front of the X-ray machine.
Other Things That Increase Your Risk
- Cigarette smoking. People who smoke are more likely to get asthma than people who don’t. If you already have asthma and you smoke, it may make your symptoms worse.
- Cigarette smoking during pregnancy. This raises the risk of wheezing in babies. Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy also have worse lung function than those whose mothers didn’t smoke.
- Workplace exposure to irritants or allergens. This causes occupational asthma. Irritants or allergens also can make symptoms worse in people who already have asthma.
- Cockroaches. Cockroach droppings in a child’s home have been linked to a higher risk for asthma.footnote 5
- Obesity. Being obese raises your risk for asthma.footnote 6 Weight gain may make asthma worse.
Diagnosing Asthma In Children Younger Than 6
It can be hard to tell whether a child under age 6 has asthma or another respiratory condition, because young children often cannot perform a pulmonary function test such as spirometry. After checking a childs history and symptoms, the doctor may try asthma medicines for a few months to see how well a child responds. About 40% of children who wheeze when they get colds or respiratory infections are eventually diagnosed with asthma.
Question 8: 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 airway’s ability to tighten and allows you to breathe more easily. The procedure has some risks, so it’s important to discuss them with your provider.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma Types
Symptoms may occur during the day or at night. If they happen at night, they may disturb your sleep.
Wheezing is the most common symptom of an asthma attack.
Current guidelines for the care of people with asthma include classifying the severity of asthma symptoms, as follows:
The exact cause of asthma is not known.
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Possible Risk Factors That Need More Research
Experts aren’t yet sure:
- About the effect that pets in the home have on getting asthma. A review of several studies found that having a pet cat appeared to protect against asthma, while pet dogs slightly increased the risk of asthma. The effect of other furry pets on the risk of asthma was not clear.footnote 8 If your child already has asthma and allergies to pets, having a pet in the home may make his or her asthma worse.
How To Get A Diagnosis
The first thing to do is book an appointment. Your GP or an asthma nurse can help confirm or rule out a diagnosis of asthma.
They can do this by:
- talking about your symptoms, what sets them off, and when you get them
- asking if anyone else in the family has asthma
- finding out if you, or anyone in your family, have other allergies, like hay fever
- testing how your lungs are working
- listening to your chest for any sounds of wheezing
- prescribing asthma treatments to see if they make a difference
- considering any other symptoms that might suggest something else.
Alongside a full clinical assessment by your GP, youll need some asthma tests to confirm or rule out asthma. Your GP can see how your lungs are working with tests like peak flow, spirometry, and FeNo .
Your GP can usually perform these tests during the appointment, and you can see the results straight away. But you may need to do tests again on another day before your GP can confirm you have asthma. ;
You may be given a peak flow meter to use at home for a couple of weeks. This is so you can record your own peak flow scores in a diary.
When you take it back to your appointment, your GP or asthma nurse will be able to see a pattern of scores that could suggest asthma. ;
Trying out asthma treatments;
Your GP or asthma nurse may prescribe asthma treatments to see if they help. This is sometimes called a trial of treatment.
If your symptoms start to get better, it suggests you could have asthma.
Where To Learn More
Your doctor, pharmacist, or Certified Respiratory Educator can:
- Explain how each of your asthma medications work
- Discuss any concerns about potential side effects
- Show you how to use your medication inhalation advice
Ontario residents can reach our Certified Respiratory Educators through our toll-free Lung Health Information Line at;1-888-344-LUNG .
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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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.
What To Do When Your Asthma Gets Out Of Control
- Mild Asthma Attack
- Person may also be restless, irritable and/or very tired
STEP 1: Immediately use fast-acting reliever inhaler . Use a spacer if provided.
STEP 2: Check symptoms. Only return to normal activity when all symptoms are gone. If symptoms get worse or do not improve within 10 minutes, this is an emergency follow steps below.
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Tests For Other Conditions
The doctor may also do tests for other conditions that can make asthma worse, like:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
The Canadian Lung Association: “Signs and Symptoms of Asthma: Diagnosis.”
National Jewish Medical and Research Center: “How Is Asthma Diagnosed?”
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “About Asthma: Diagnosing Asthma.”
Mayo Clinic: âAsthma: Steps in testing and diagnosis.â
Medscape: âAsthma Guidelines.â
American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology: “What to expect at the doctor’s office.”
American Lung Association: “Spirometry and Other Lung Function Tests Fact Sheet.”
American Medical Association: Essential Guide to Asthma.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Peak Flow Meters.”
Grayson, M. ACP Medicine, 2005.
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program: “Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma — 2002.”
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: “Asthma: How is Asthma Diagnosed?”
MedlinePlus: “Pulmonary Function Tests.”
National Lung Health Education Program: “Spirometry.”