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Asthma: Symptoms and Treatments
Asthma can affect people differently depending on the type of asthma they have, their environment, and their overall health.
Here are some facts about asthma, symptoms of the disease, and a list of treatments available for those with asthma.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition; however, asthma attacks only occur when an irritant, such as cold air or pollen, bothers the lungs. During an asthma attack, the airways narrow, swell, and produce extra mucus.3
There are different types of asthma that people may experience, including:
- Exercise-induced asthma – Exercise-induced asthma, also known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, may cause people to experience asthma attacks while exerting themselves when exercising. Cold and dry air can also exaggerate this type of asthma.
- Occupational asthma – Occupational asthma is when workplace allergens such as dust, gases, or chemical fumes cause people to experience asthma.
- Allergy-induced asthma – Allergy-induced asthma is a common type of asthma that is brought on by allergens such as pollen, mold, or skin shed by pets.4
What causes Asthma?
Researchers and medical professionals are unsure about what exactly causes asthma. However, researchers have found that there are a few things linked to developing asthma, including:
- Genetics – Genetics play a role in an individual developing asthma. If someone in your family has asthma, it is more likely that you will have it.2 If a parent has asthma, researchers found that there is a 25% chance their child will have asthma as well.5
- Environment – Environmental factors also play a role in someone developing asthma. Allergens including dust, mold, and tobacco smoke have been linked to asthma. This asthma can also develop when someone is exposed to these factors at work and develop an allergy.
Here are some common asthma triggers:
- Cold air
- Certain medications
- Infections, including cold or flu
- Household chemicals
- Air pollution
- Tobacco smoke6
If you have allergy-induced asthma, some of the triggers may include:
- Dust mites
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma symptoms vary by the individual and the severity. Some of the common symptoms of asthma include:
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- Shortness of breath
If you or a loved one have experienced any of these symptoms recently or frequently, talk to your doctor immediately.
If you’re being tested for asthma, your doctor may use multiple tests to properly diagnose you.
Your doctor may start by asking about family history and performing a physical evaluation. Blood and allergy tests are commonly used to check for allergic reactions.
Your doctor may also refer you to a pulmonologist (a lung specialist) or an allergist (an allergy specialist) for further testing if they are concerned about your symptoms.
Here are some other tests doctors use before diagnosing someone with asthma:
- Spirometry – A pulmonary test that determines how well your lungs function.
- Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) – This test measures how fast you are able to blow air out of your lungs.
- Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) – This test measures the levels of nitric oxide in your breath. If you breathe out a high level of nitric oxide, this could mean your lungs are inflamed.6
Treatments for Asthma
Although asthma is not curable, there are many treatments available to help monitor asthma and ease the symptoms. Treatments will vary depending on your doctor’s suggestions as well as the severity of symptoms. Here are some of the treatments available for asthma:
- Inhaled corticosteroids – Inhalers are the most common treatment for individuals with asthma. Inhalers can be used every day to help prevent swelling in the airways.
- Leukotriene modifiers – This is a medication in the form of a pill that’s taken once a day. It blocks leukotrienes, which trigger an asthma attack in your body.
- Long-acting beta-agonists – This medication relaxes the muscle bands that surround your airways. A long-acting beta-agonist medication is taken alongside the use of an inhaler.
- Combination Inhaler – A combination inhaler provides both an inhaled corticosteroid as well as a long-acting beta-agonist.
- Short-acting beta-agonists – Also known as a rescue inhaler, short-acting beta-agonist medications work by loosening the muscles around your airways to ease symptoms.8
Talk to your doctor if you want to learn about these treatments and what will work best for you.
Learn About Asthma Today
Take the time to learn more about asthma and be aware of its symptoms. The more you know, the better chance you have to protect yourself and your loved ones from asthma attacks.
If you are experiencing asthma symptoms or have questions about living with asthma and different treatments, talk to your doctor.
If you want to learn more about Saber Healthcare and the services we provide, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Asthma Facts and Figures.” Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, aafa.org. April 2021. Accessed August 24th, 2021. https://www.aafa.org/asthma-facts/.
- “Learn How To Control Asthma.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 1st, 2021. Accessed August 24th, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/faqs.htm.
- “Asthma.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mayo Clinic. August 11th, 2020. Accessed August 24th, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/symptoms-causes/syc-20369653.
- “Types of Asthma.” American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org. Accessed August 25th, 2021. https://acaai.org/asthma/types-of-asthma/.
- “Does Asthma Run in the Family?” Global Allergy and Airways Patient Platform, gaapp.org. Accessed August 25th, 2021. https://gaapp.org/is-asthma-genetic/.
- “Asthma.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus. July 20th, 2021. Accessed August 24th, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/asthma.html.
- Faris, Stephanie. “Allergies and Asthma: Is There a Connection?” Healthline Media, healthline.com. February 19th, 2019. Accessed August 25th, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/allergy-induced-asthma.
- Ratini, Melinda. “Asthma.” WebMD, webmd.com. May 15th, 2021. Accessed August 24th, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/asthma/what-is-asthma.