The incidence of asthma is on the increase, particularly in children. Approximately 7% of Americans are currently suffering with asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Females are slightly more likely to develop asthma than males.
If you or someone you love has asthma, there are things you can do to control it. In addition to using inhalers and/or medication, you can reduce your exposure to triggers that can aggravate asthma symptoms.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma causes inflammation of the airways in the lungs. This inflammation results in the temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen from the mouth and nose to the lungs, thereby causing difficulty breathing. This is an asthma attack.
Allergens or irritants in our environment are often responsible for triggering asthma symptoms. These symptoms can include breathing problems such as breathlessness, wheezing, coughing, and the feeling of a tight chest.
Currently there is no cure for asthma, but there are simple treatments that can help to keep asthma symptoms under control and prevent some asthma flare-ups.
Controlling Asthma Symptoms
If asthma is left untreated, it can become severe and even life-threatening. Therefore, it is important to control asthma with self-management, lifestyle changes, and medical treatment.
Most medications for asthma are taken by using an inhaler or nebulizer, which enables the medication to go directly to your lungs. The type of medication that you receive depends on the severity and cause of your asthma as well as your lung functioning. You may be prescribed long-term medications or quick-relief “rescue” medications.
Triggers of an Asthma Attack
If you have asthma, identifying your triggers is an important step in keeping it under control and preventing an attack.
Asthma attacks can be triggered by a number of factors, including:
- Air pollution
- Allergens (dust mites, mold, pollen, pet dander, etc.)
- Cold air
- Cold/flu viruses
Exposure to these allergens can make an asthma attack more likely. By identifying your triggers, you can take steps to control them and avoid them. It may be useful to keep a diary for several weeks to track your symptoms and identify times when they are better or worse – this can help you and your doctor identify your particular triggers.
Prevention of Asthma Attacks
You may be able to prevent or reduce your asthma flare-ups by avoiding the triggers that cause it, but it is also sensible to formulate a plan with your doctor to cover what you should do in a serious asthma-related situation. You should know how to use your medication properly, when to use it, what to do if your medication does not work right away, and when to seek help or go to the emergency room.
Long-term asthma medications and inhalers are intended to keep your asthma under control and prevent attacks. It is important to see your doctor and to always follow the doctor’s advice – even if you have no symptoms. This will help to prevent flare-ups and inflammation in the airways.
Allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) may also help to prevent asthma symptoms that are associated with allergens. Immunotherapy involves receiving a series of injections of small amounts of allergens in order to eventually desensitize the body’s response to the allergen.
Prevent Colds and Flu
Viruses, such as colds and the flu, can make asthma symptoms worse. Make sure you wash your hands regularly to reduce contact with germs, and avoid close contact with people who are sick with one of these viral or bacterial infections. An annual flu vaccination can also help to protect you against the flu virus.
Asthma Specialist in Sarasota and Manatee County
Effectively controlling your asthma requires planning, preparation, and patience. Our asthma specialist Dr. Matthew Aresery can develop a personalized treatment plan for your condition based on what triggers your own allergies and asthma. The goal is to enable you to lead a life that is as normal and symptom-free as possible.
Call Intercoastal Medical Group today at (941) 362-8640 for more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Aresery. You can also request an appointment via our online form now. We look forward to being your healthcare partner and helping you maintain a symptom-free lifestyle.