May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month Part II: Asthma

Asthma is a condition in which airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This makes breathing difficult and can trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Asthma effects vary from person to person. For some, asthma can be a minor nuisance, while for others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities. Some may have infrequent asthma attacks or have symptoms only at certain times - such as when exercising - or have symptoms all of the time.

According to a 2018 Asthma Surveillance Data by the CDC, more than 26 million Americans have asthma. Asthma affects about 8% of adults and children. This study also showed that asthma has been increasing since the 1980s in all age, sex, and racial groups.

 

Asthma Signs & Symptoms:

Asthma signs and symptoms include:

If you have asthma, it's very important to track your signs and symptoms as asthma can change over time. If your symptoms are more frequent, have more difficulty breathing, or need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often, talk to your doctor to adjust your treatment plan.

 

For some people, asthma only flares up in certain situations. The most common are:

Other common asthma triggers include:

 

Risk Factors:

There are a number of risk factors that are believed to increase your chances of developing asthma. These include:

 

Diagnosis

If you think you have asthma, your doctor will ask you some questions and will do a physical exam in order to rule out other possible conditions such as a respiratory infection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

You may be given lung (pulmonary) function tests to determine how much air moves in and out as you breathe. These tests may include:

Lung function tests often are done before and after taking a medication called a bronchodilator, such as albuterol, to open your airways. If your lung function improves with the use of a bronchodilator, it's likely you have asthma.

 

How asthma is classified

To classify your asthma severity, your doctor will consider your answers to questions about symptoms (such as how often you have asthma attacks and how bad they are), along with the results of your physical exam and diagnostic tests.

Determining your asthma severity helps your doctor choose the best treatment. Asthma severity often changes over time, requiring treatment adjustments.

 

Asthma is classified into four general categories:

Mild intermittent

Mild persistent

Moderate persistent

Severe persistent

 

Prevention/Treatment:

While there's no cure or way to prevent asthma, it is manageable. By working together, you and your doctor can formulate a plan to help manage your asthma and prevent asthma attacks. The Mayo Clinic lists that following to help manage asthma:

The Asthma Control Test is a way to help you and your doctor determine if your asthma symptoms are well controlled. You can take an online test below and share your score with your doctor at your next visit. This test is for those 12 years and older.

https://www.asthma.com/additional-resources/asthma-control-test.html

If your child is 4-11 years old, take the Childhood Asthma Control Test.

https://www.asthma.com/additional-resources/childhood-asthma-control-test.html

For more information, the Center for Disease Control have a great 2019 toolkit to help teach you and your loved ones about asthma!

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, call our office to set up an appointment with your Blue Hills doctor today.

 

Resources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/symptoms-causes/syc-20369653

https://www.aafa.org/asthma-facts/

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