Asthma / Chronic Cough

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that affects the airways in your lung. During an acute asthma episode, the airway linings are swollen and inflamed. The airways also produce more mucus and the muscles around the airways tighten. All of this leads to narrower airways, which makes it harder to breathe.

Asthma may be triggered by allergies, colds, sinusitis, exercise, strong emotions (laughing/crying), smoke or pollution, and weather changes.

Asthma affects more than 24 million people in the U.S., including more than 6 million children (Source: NIH).  It is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. While many people think asthma only comes on during childhood or that it “goes away”, it can occur throughout your life. It may also abate only to reoccur in middle age, for example.

Signs & Symptoms of Asthma

  • Cough – For some people, this may be the only symptom of asthma! It may mainly occur at night or after exercise.

  • Shortness of breath while walking or at rest

  • Wheezing – However, not all people with asthma wheeze!

  • Chest tightness

  • Fatigue and feeling out of breath

  • Inability to complete/talk in full sentences (during a flare)

How We Can Help

Treatment of Asthma

Our healthcare team can help diagnose and treat asthma. We understand that patients also want to know what is causing their asthma. We help identify triggers through discussion and testing and coordinate a plan to better minimize exposure to those known triggers. We also educate and discuss treatments, including novel asthma biologic therapies.  By working together, we want to keep you breathing easier and engaged in your active life!

FAQ

In susceptible individuals, exposure to allergens including dust mites, pet dander, and pollens can spur asthma symptoms.  Irritants such as smoke or strong scents (i.e. perfume, car exhaust, and cleaning products) can also incite symptoms. Other common asthma triggers include exercise, respiratory infections, weather extremes, acid reflux, or stress. It is important to minimize known triggers to keep your asthma in control.

  • Work closely with your allergist to ensure that you understand your disease.
  • Plan ways to avoid or reduce contact with your triggers.
  • Get a written asthma care plan that keeps you informed about what to do when your asthma flares.
  • Use your medications as your physician directs and take them REGULARLY as they are prescribed.
  • Stay Healthy! Wash your hands well to avoid getting sick, eat healthy meals, and exercise regularly.

A rescue inhaler is used for quick relief to open the airways and should be used if you are coughing, wheezing, or experiencing shortness of breath. However, it is not meant to be a long-term daily treatment for your symptoms.

We use the “rule of 2”:  a well-controlled asthma patient will need a rescue inhaler 2 or fewer times per week (outside of preventative use before exercise). If you are exceeding this use of 2x per week, or if you awaken with asthma symptoms more than 2x per month, please notify your doctor. This may mean that your asthma is not well-controlled, and it is time to adjust your care plan accordingly with your allergist.

If you need your rescue inhaler more than every 4 hours or more than 4 times in a 24-hour period, please seek medical attention immediately. Severe asthma flares can be life-threatening and fatal.

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