Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchi in the lungs. Asthma symptoms include wheezing, tightness in the lungs and chest, coughing, and difficulty breathing, or a shortness of breath. Each person has a unique experience of asthma regarding symptoms and severity. It’s also possible to have these symptoms and not have asthma. The best way to determine whether you have asthma is to make an appointment with Dr. McDonald for a lung function test and a full medical diagnosis.
Allergic asthma is the most common form of the condition, representing about 90% of asthmatics. An asthma attack can occur when an allergen enters your lungs, stimulating an allergic response including inflammation and mucus production in already swollen bronchi, making it difficult for you to breathe.
Some of the common allergens that can stimulate an attack include:
While asthma is a chronic respiratory condition, bronchitis is an acute viral infection. While both conditions obstruct natural breathing, asthma constricts the airways and is worsened by allergic reactions; bronchitis results in the airways being clogged with mucus and other inflammatory secretions. Bronchitis is an illness that can be treated with antivirals and rest. Asthma, on the other hand, has no known cure and needs to be managed throughout your life.
The foundation of any asthma care is management with medication, allergen avoidance techniques, and tracking your symptoms and progress. With proper care, you can prevent symptom flare ups, reduce the need for your inhaler, maintain quality lung function, maintain normal activity levels, and prevent asthma attacks.
Asthma is treated with both long-term and quick relief medications. Long-term medications help to reduce inflammation in the lungs and to open the bronchi. Quick relief medications are most often administered with an inhaler to deliver a steroid directly to your lungs to open your airways so you can breathe easier.
You also learn and practice techniques to avoid allergens that trigger your symptoms such as dust, pet dander, mold, and tobacco smoke. While physical exercise can trigger asthma symptoms, you should not give up exercise. Not only is it important to maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle, it also can improve your lung capacity and function.
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