No Cure Yet
As mentioned above, there is as, of this writing, no cure for asthma. Thankfully, people with asthma don’t need to be completely cured to get a measure of relief-there are many effective treatments that can help decrease asthma’s symptoms significantly. In fact, as the year rolls on, more and more effective medications come on the market to provide better levels of relief. We’ve reached a stage where most asthmatics, with the help of proper medication, can live comfortable and productive lives with asthmas.
Asthma Symptoms Overview
Generally, asthma involves the chronic and long-term inflammation of the lungs’ airways and passages. This inflammation varies in intensity and occurrence. Many times, the symptoms come back again and again. Other symptoms involve obstructions in the lung’s airflow and bronchospasm. These are often exhibited in the form of shortness of breath, tightness in the asthmatic’s chest, heavy or persistent coughing, and wheezing.
Causes Of Asthma
Many researchers believe that asthma is caused by both environmental and genetic factors combined. Unfortunately, the exact cause for asthma is far from certain.
Doctors arrive at asthma diagnoses by studying the patient’s symptom patterns as well as how the patient responds to treatment over a period of time. Upon diagnosis, a patient’s asthma is often classified based on how frequent asthma symptoms appear, how often a patient is needing rescue medications, and how a patient’s lung volumes look on spirometry.
Common treatments of asthma
Treatment involves both prevention and medication. Prevention involves avoiding common irritants that provoke asthma attacks (strong smells, polluted air, and tobacco smoke). Asthma medical treatments often include the use of inhalers that contain beta-2 agonist compounds like albuterol which is used when patients are symptomatic. Inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta agonists, and leukotriene antagonists can be started if the patient is still experiencing symptoms.
Common Asthma Symptoms
If you exhibit any of the following symptoms, you might need to check with your primary care physician and ask for a referral to an asthma specialist. Common asthma symptoms include:
Persistent cough – the most suspicious are coughs that persist for a long time and happen either in the morning time or at night.
Wheezing cough – you create a whistling sound when you cough. Sometimes this type of cough has a squeaking effect.
Tightness in your chest – even if you are not coughing or wheezing, a persistent chest tightness might be an indicator of asthma.
Trouble with your breathing – if you can only breathe in short breaths, or you have difficulty getting air in your lungs, you might need to see your doctor for a possible asthma check.
Long, drawn out coughing – be on the lookout for long episodes of coughing when you are laughing, during exercise, or at certain times like night time.
What Do Asthma Screenings Involve?
Usually, asthma screenings involve questions about any breathing difficulties you may have. You will be asked if you get a runny nose, itchy eyes, have long bouts of coughing or wheezing, as well as a variety of questions regarding your breathing patterns. You will probably also be asked to blow into a plastic tube. Your breathing will be measured. If your tests indicate a possible asthma or asthma-like condition, you will be asked to check with your doctor. Speak to your doctor and ask for a referral to an allergist. Why an allergist? Allergists are practitioners who specialize in asthma and allergies. They have the experience and specialized knowledge you need to deal effectively with your asthma.
While the questions above might seem like a ‘slam dunk’ for an asthma diagnosis, you need to see an asthma specialist to truly get to the bottom of your coughing issues. Your symptoms might actually be caused by another condition. Alternatively, your breathing issues might be so low-key that you aren’t even aware that you actually have asthma.
Basic Asthma Testing
Basic asthma consultation involves getting your medical history and asking you questions about your breathing issues. The allergist-immunologist will look at your prior history of breathing problems as well as asking you questions regarding triggers for these episodes. In terms of physical testing, you will probably be asked to breathe into a plastic tube. This breath test measures how hard you breathe and gives an indication of any blockages in your lung passageways.
Once the allergist has all the facts and, assuming you have the symptoms, you will be given treatment options that consist of two parts: prevention and medication. Your allergist will outline the situations you have to avoid so you can minimize, if not eliminate outright, your asthma attacks.
What If You Don’t Have Asthma?
In certain situations, you might be exhibiting asthma-like symptoms but don’t actually have asthma. Going to an allergist will ensure that you get non-asthma treatment and lifestyle modification advice.