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Asthma is an inflammatory disorder which flares up with asthma attacks – wheezing, shortness of breath, tightening of the chest, coughing, etc. Know the signs, the symptoms, the treatment, and how to stay well when you or a loved one is diagnosed with asthma.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with asthma, it means you have a chronic (long-term) lung disease involving inflammation and narrowing of the airways. This can trigger bouts of wheezing (a whistling sound as you breathe), shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing (especially at night or early in the morning). Sometimes these symptoms are mild and go away on their own or with a dose of asthma medication. Other times, symptoms may continue to get worse and evolve into a full-blown asthma attack; these can be severe and may require trips to the emergency room or even hospitalization in some cases. Most people with asthma have flare-ups that are separated by symptom-free periods, though some have persistent shortness of breath with periods of worsening symptoms. A variety of factors can trigger flare-ups, including allergy-causing substances, respiratory infections, exercise, cold air, exposure to tobacco smoke or other irritants, stress, or drug allergies.
While there’s no cure for asthma, most asthma sufferers can lead normal, active lives with proper medical treatment. That’s why it’s essential to follow the treatment plan recommended by your doctor. This usually involves:
Combining these approaches is likely to give you much better results than if you were to rely on one exclusively. To ensure that your asthma is being well controlled by these interventions, your doctor may recommend using a peak flow meter, a handheld device that monitors how well air can move out of your lungs, on a daily basis and keeping a log of the results.
By following your doctor’s treatment regimen, you can control your asthma, maintain your usual activities, sleep through the night, and enhance the quality of your life and health. Once your treatment is launched, your doctor will want to see you regularly to find out how well the medications you’re taking and the lifestyle modifications you’ve made are controlling your asthma. To that end, your doctor will likely measure how well your lungs are functioning through spirometry, a simple breathing test that gauges how much air a person’s lungs can hold and the speed of inhalations and exhalations. If your asthma is well controlled for several months, your doctor may consider scaling back the therapy; on the other hand, if your asthma doesn’t stay well controlled, your doctor may increase your medication.
Asthma is an inflammatory disorder that occurs when the airways in your lungs get inflamed and constricted. These attacks cause wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, pain or pressure more...
To learn more about how the Visiting Nurse Service of New York can help you manage asthma, click here.