Asthma is a chronic condition caused by inflammation, tightening, and mucus buildup in the bronchial tubes that makes it hard to breathe. Asthma affects some people daily and others occasionally. Some people only have attacks during exercise or viral infections.
When a person with asthma is having an attack, they may have difficulty breathing, along with other symptoms, such as:
It isn’t clear exactly what causes asthma, but irritants and substances in the air lead to inflammation in the airways of some people. Well-known asthma triggers include:
To determine whether or not you have asthma, Southwestern Medical Associates performs a physical exam and asks about your medical history. Once the provider has some foundational knowledge about your health, she may test your lung function using spirometry or peak flow before and after you use a bronchodilator, exercise, or breathe in cold air.
To get more clues about the nature of your asthma, the provider may order additional tests such as the methacholine challenge or allergy testing. Imaging from X-rays and CT scans give her clues about any physical abnormalities that may contribute to your asthma.
The most common treatment for asthma is an asthma inhaler. Asthma inhalers deliver liquid medication straight to the lungs. For people that can’t use an inhaler, we can prescribe a nebulizer, which delivers medicines through vapor inside a mask.
Inhaled steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs can be lifesaving for people with asthma. They immediately reduce swelling and mucus in the airways. You may need to use a fast-acting bronchodilator, or rescue inhaler, during certain episodes to relax the muscle in the airways.
For severe asthma attacks, we may prescribe oral corticosteroids. This short-term treatment helps control significant symptoms of attacks.
Southwestern Medical Associates can also help you identify your asthma triggers so you can avoid them. Tracking environmental factors that lead to an asthma attack may indicate you have an allergy or acid reflux. If the team at Southwestern Medical Associates suspects an underlying medical condition, such as allergies, they can provide further testing.
If you need help managing your asthma, book an appointment with Southwestern Medical Associates by phone.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!