Asthma is a chronic lung condition prevalent among children and adults alike. Controllable with trigger avoidance and medications, asthma may still flare up, causing a sudden – and sometimes dangerous – attack.
Learn here about when to see your asthma doctor and what you can do to manage your asthma for better overall health.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a respiratory condition in which the airway, including the bronchi and bronchioli in the lungs, constrict, limiting the free flow of oxygen. During an acute episode, breathing becomes labored, and blood oxygenation can decrease significantly. Your ability to carry out your usual activities diminishes, and you may even experience a breathing emergency so severe that it requires hospitalization.
Most of us have heard of or know someone with this chronic pulmonary condition. In fact, about 12 million Americans–or one out of every 25–have asthma. Of these, almost half have experienced a severe, out-of-control asthmatic episode in the past year.
What Are the Symptoms of Asthma?
Asthma symptoms are many and varied. Accordingly, your asthma doctor will recommend close monitoring of symptoms and avoidance of your triggers (i.e., exercise, cold weather, allergies to food, animals, and inhaled substances).
Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest retractions at the top and bottom of the breast bone
- Coughing, particularly at night
- Noticeable wheezing
- Extreme fatigue
- Rapid pulse
- Feelings of apprehension and anxiety
How Can I Treat My Asthma?
To manage symptoms and to avoid severe attacks and complications, you should be evaluated by our board-certified allergist and asthma doctor at Intercoastal Medical Group. Dr. Matthew Aresey will review your symptoms, do a complete physical exam, order blood work, and perform spirometry and peak flow assessments.
These tests tell your physician how much air you can take in and out of your lungs. Also, he may ask you to undergo allergy testing to determine if there are substances in your immediate environment that trigger your asthma symptoms.
When Should I See My Physician?
To manage your asthma, keep in close contact with your physician about your symptoms. Follow your asthma action plan closely, and take all your asthma medications as directed.
Some people use a fast-acting bronchodilator in inhalation form for sudden attacks. Others use this medication in combination with a maintenance medication, typically a long-lasting corticosteroid that reduces lung inflammation.
Sometimes, people experience severe asthma attacks after flu or a cold. Others react strongly to stress or unknown triggers. Because any asthma attack is potentially life-threatening, you should contact your asthma doctor right away when your symptoms do not resolve within 15 minutes of using your rescue medication. If you experience asthma symptoms more often than before, it is also a sign to see your doctor. Throughout life, your medication and treatment plan will change because your asthma will change, so anytime you experience changes or an increase in symptoms is a good time to see your doctor.
Emergency symptoms include:
- Inability to talk except for a few short words
- A bluish lip color
- Face pallor
- Nasal flaring
- Sternal retractions
- Respiratory rate of 30 breaths or more per minute
- Constant coughing
If you or a loved one is extremely concerned about the severity of your symptoms during an asthma attack, go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.
Asthma Assistance in Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida
Can you live well with asthma? Yes! You can live a productive, high-quality life with the help of a detailed asthma management plan from the experts at Intercoastal Medical Group. We have nine convenient locations and 100 providers in various specialties to help you, including our board-certified asthma and allergy doctor, Dr. Matthew Aresey.
Call us at (941) 362-8640, or request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you soon.