What causes asthma?
Asthma develops when airways in your lungs become inflamed and hypersensitive to airborne substances.
Three things happen that narrow your airways, block airflow, and lead to breathing problems:
- Airway walls become swollen
- Muscles lining the airway walls tighten which narrows the airways
- Extra mucus builds up in the airways
Once you have asthma, your airways stay chronically inflamed, which makes you susceptible to future asthma attacks.
What symptoms will I develop when I have asthma?
Asthma attacks cause:
- Coughing, especially at night, during exercise, or when you laugh
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
- Chest pain or feeling of chest pressure
Your asthma symptoms can appear at any time, but they’re always triggered by environmental irritants or activities.
Can I develop different types of asthma?
There are several types of asthma, including:
- Allergic Asthma: Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma. It develops when airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and mold cause your asthma.
- Childhood Asthma: This type of asthma usually appears before the age of five. It’s the most common serious, chronic disease in children.
- Occupational Asthma: You may develop occupational asthma by inhaling chemical fumes, gasses, and other toxic substances on the job.
- Exercise-induced Asthma: When asthma is triggered by physical activity, it’s called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Your symptoms typically occur shortly after you start exercising.
How is asthma diagnosed?
Undergoing a breathing study is the best way to diagnose asthma. Dr. Ispas performs pulmonary function testing to determine the health of your lungs and to diagnose asthma. Two important tests are:
- Spirometry: You breathe into a tube to measure the amount of air you inhale and exhale and the speed of exhalation.
- Methacholine Challenge: You inhale methacholine, which narrows your airways, then you undergo spirometry to test your breathing. This test evaluates the reactivity of your lungs.
How is asthma treated?
Dr. Ispas works with each patient to determine their specific asthma triggers. In addition to allergens and exercise, some common triggers include cold air, upper respiratory tract infections, and strong emotions.
When you have allergic asthma, Dr. Ispas performs allergy testing, then develops a customized treatment plan that may include immunotherapy (allergy shots).
Dr. Ispas may also prescribe two types of asthma medications:
- Quick-relief Medications: These medications are inhaled to provide quick relief during an asthma attack. A nebulizer converts the medication into a fine mist you can inhale.
- Long-term Medications: These medications, which may be pills or inhaled, help keep your asthma under control and prevent future asthma attacks.
If you develop wheezing, shortness of breath, or coughing, call Allergy Asthma & Immunology Institute or book an appointment online.