Asthma is considered a chronic lung disease. During an asthma attack, the lining of the airways become swollen and inflamed causing muscle spasms that limit the air flow to and from the lungs. This common disease affects an estimated 16 million Americans, including children.
Common symptoms of asthma include difficulty breathing, a tight feeling in the chest, coughing and wheezing. Most often these symptoms are more noticeable at night and first thing in the morning, but an asthma attack can occur at any time of the day and/or night.
While the exact reason for an asthma attack is still unknown, it is said to be a combination of the inflammation of the lung coupled with the narrowing of the lung passages. There are many known contributing factors that can lead to an asthma attack, including:
- Contact with some allergens, such as grass, leaves or animals
- Contact with strong smells, such as smoke and perfumes
- Viral Infection
- Weather conditions
Since Asthma is a chronic disease, it requires ongoing management. This includes using proper medications to prevent and control symptoms and to reduce airway inflammation.
There are two general classes of asthma medications, quick-relief, and long-term controller medications. Your allergist may recommend one or a combination of two or more of these medications.
Quick-relief medications provide temporary relief of symptoms and, at times, are used prior to exercise. These rescue medicines are bronchodilators, which help to open up the airways so that more air can flow through. Bronchodilators are primarily short-acting beta-agonists administered by an inhaler or a nebulizer machine. Another type of medicine called an anticholinergic may be used at times.
Long-term controller medications are important for many people with asthma and are taken on a daily basis to control airway inflammation and treat symptoms in people who have frequent asthma symptoms.
Asthma Management Plan
The more informed you are about your asthma condition, the better control you’ll have over your asthma symptoms. To assist you in managing your asthma, Dr. Lighvani will develop a personalized management plan.
This plan can include:
• Ways to avoid your asthma triggers.
• Medications to prevent symptoms as well as medications to use for quick relief of flare-ups.
• An asthma action plan to identify when you are doing well and when you need to seek help.