What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways causing periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing. Asthma affects people of all ages, and it is often developed during childhood.
What Causes Asthma?
The exact cause of asthma is unknown; however, some genetic and environmental factors interact causing asthma can include:
- An inherited tendency to develop allergies
- Parents who have asthma
- Certain respiratory infections during childhood
- Contact with some airborne allergens or exposure to some viral infections in infancy or in early childhood when the immune system is developing
What Are Signs Of Asthma?
- Coughing, often worse at night or early in the morning
- Chest tightness that may feel like something is squeezing or sitting on your chest
- Shortness of breath, having a hard time catching your breath or feeling out of breath
How Is Asthma Diagnosed?
Asthma is diagnosed based on your medical and family history, a physical exam and test results. During the physical exam, your physician will listen to your breathing to monitor for any signs of asthma or allergies. Signs include wheezing, runny nose or swollen nasal passages, and allergic skin conditions. Following test results, your physician will figure out the severity of your asthma, which will determine what treatment you'll begin.
How Is Asthma Controlled?
Asthma is a long-term disease that has no cure; the goal of treatment is to control the disease. Good asthma control will prevent chronic and troublesome symptoms, including coughing and shortness of breath, help maintain good lung function, help maintain normal activity level and sleep through the night, and prevent asthma attacks that could result in an ER visit or hospital stay.
To control asthma, your physician will work with you to create an asthma action plan and can help treat other conditions that can interfere with asthma management, as well.