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Asthma is a respiratory disorder that causes inflammation in the lungs which results in narrowing of the airways. When the airways become inflamed and narrowed, it is difficult to move air in and out of the lungs. People with asthma have recurrent episodes of airflow limitation. This limitation can cause wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
Asthma can be triggered by a number of different causes and these triggers vary from person to person with asthma. These factors include tobacco smoke, viral and bacterial infections, exercise, exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust mites or pet dander, acid reflux, some medications including aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, weather changes, and emotional anxiety.
Asthma is a chronic disorder and may affect up to 10% of the population.
False: Asthma is not just wheezing. Some individuals with asthma never wheeze and wheezing does not have to be present for an individual to have asthma. Coughing, recurrent bronchitis, and shortness of breath are also ways that asthma appears. Please inform your health care provider of your symptoms and ask for appropriate care.
False: Asthma action plans are useful for all individuals with asthma. These plans provide detailed instructions about how to treat asthma. They outline what medications to take for your asthma and when and how to increase the doses or add more medication if needed for symptoms. These plans also include advice about when to call your physician. An asthma action plan puts you in control for detection and early treatment of symptoms.
False: Asthma is a chronic disease that requires ongoing management. Personalized plans for treatment may include medications, an asthma action plan, and environmental control measures to avoid your child's asthma triggers. By working together with your daughter's health care provider on her treatment plan, you can ensure that her asthma is well controlled so that she can participate in all of her normal activities.
True: Many people have "allergic asthma," which means that exposure to allergens makes their symptoms worse. Common allergens include house dust mites, pet dander, molds, pollen, and cockroach droppings. Your allergist can diagnose what you are allergic to and recommend ways to avoid exposure to your triggers. Your allergist can also treat your allergies with medications and/or immunotherapy (allergy shots) which can diminish your allergies' effect on your asthma.
False: Many infants who wheeze with colds or viral respiratory tract infections will stop wheezing as they grow older. However, if your child has atopic dermatitis (eczema), allergies, or if there is smoking in the home or a strong family history of allergies or asthma, there is a much greater chance that his asthma symptoms will persist into adulthood.
Reading the newspaper: Exposure to irritants, such as tobacco smoke, or allergens, such as cat dander, is likely to trigger asthma symptoms in susceptible individuals. Viral and bacterial infections, such as the common cold and sinusitis, and continuous exercise are also common triggers for asthma. Other common triggers include weather changes, reflux disease, and emotional anxiety. Reading a newspaper, however, is not likely to trigger symptoms in individuals with asthma. Identifying one's own asthma triggers and minimizing exposure to these triggers is a key component of maintaining well-controlled asthma.
False: Quick-relief medications are used to provide temporary relief of symptoms, but they are not meant to be taken daily unless for pre-treatment for exercise. Quick-relief medications include bronchodilators and are often referred to as rescue medications because they open up the airways quickly so that more air can flow through. Long-term controller medications are important for many people with asthma who have frequent symptoms and are usually taken daily. Controller medications help control the airway inflammation associated with asthma and prevent symptoms. Your allergist can help guide you in the ongoing management of your asthma by prescribing proper medications to prevent and treat your asthma symptoms and to reduce airway inflammation.
Asthma is common and should be evaluated. Approximately 20 millions Americans are affected by asthma. The first step in management is to involve your health care provider. There are many effective medications that can be used to prevent and control asthma Symptoms. In addition to medications, identification and avoidance of one's asthma triggers can help prevent or lessen symptoms.
Medical content developed and reviewed by the leading experts in allergy, asthma and immunology.
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