Asthma is a condition where the airways in the lungs are inflamed and become constricted. The inflammation and constriction results in asthma symptoms like cough, wheezing and shortness of breath. Asthma affects millions of people each year. The specific cause of asthma is not known, but it is believed to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Symptoms of Asthma
Symptoms of asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
- Bouts of coughing
- Trouble sleeping due to coughing
- Wheezing or whistling sound when exhaling
Severity of asthma can vary from very mild (where patients get asthma symptoms intermittently) to severe-persistent asthma (daily symptoms that are usually severe).
Diagnosis of Asthma
The diagnosis of asthma is made by a combination of careful medical history, physical examination and lung function testing.
Treatment of Asthma
While asthma is a chronic condition with no cure, it can usually be controlled through long-term medications. The method to controlling asthma is based on the prevention of an attack and the treatment of symptoms when recognized. There are two main types of asthma medications: 1) controller medications, that reduce the inflammation in the lungs and prevent symptoms and 2) quick-relief medications that are used to treat attacks. Both types of medications are most commonly delivered through inhalers or nebulizers. In cases where allergies are the trigger for asthma (allergic asthma), allergy shots may also be helpful. It is important to monitor your asthma symptoms and take measures to avoid triggers and prevent serious attacks.