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What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease, it is a long-term condition and can be controlled but not cured. Common symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath, however not all people who have asthma have all of these symptoms. Early diagnosis of asthma and proper treatment can help prevent damage to the lungs.
The best way to test for asthma in children and adults is through a medical and family history, a physical exam, and a pulmonary function test (PFT) such as Spirometry or Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO) testing. The exact cause of asthma is not known, yet researchers think genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the development of asthma.
The pulmonary function test will measure how well a patient’s lungs are working. FeNO testing measures the concentration of nitric oxide in exhaled breath; this indicates the level of airway inflammation that can be an underlying sign of asthma. FeNO testing can help lead to a diagnosis when other evidence is lacking.
A primary care physician may refer patients to an allergist due to their special training to diagnose and treat patients with asthma.
Many people who have asthma also have allergies that trigger asthma symptoms. Once diagnosed with asthma it is important to determine what is a trigger to help manage the patient’s asthma. An allergy skin test can help determine what allergens the patient is allergic to and should avoid to help prevent an asthma attack. In addition to allergens, pollution, smoke, stress, exercise and cold air can trigger an asthma attack.
If diagnosed, our doctors develop an asthma care plan with our patients to help them manage their asthma. It’s important to follow the medication plan and avoid triggers when possible.
Most asthma medicines are inhaled so that the medicine goes where it is most needed — the lungs. Patients may need to take a long-term control medication daily to help prevent symptoms, as well as use a quick-relief medication on the occasion that their asthma symptoms flare up. Asthma can also change over time, so it is important to continue to work with a physician to help manage asthma symptoms.
If you think you have asthma, you need to be evaluated by a board-certified allergist. Family Allergy & Asthma offers a variety of treatment options for asthmatic patients.