Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to difficulty in breathing. It often causes recurring episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
Symptoms of Asthma
Wheezing: A whistling or squeaky sound when breathing, especially during exhaling.
Coughing: Often worse at night or early in the morning and might be triggered by exercise or exposure to allergens.
Chest Tightness: Feeling like a heavy weight is pressing on the chest.
Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing, often accompanied by a sense of breathlessness.
An asthma attack, also known as an asthma exacerbation, is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms due to increased inflammation and constriction of the airways. During an attack, the symptoms intensify, making it hard to breathe. It can be triggered by exposure to allergens, respiratory infections, exercise, or irritants like smoke.
Types of Asthma
Allergic Asthma: Triggered by exposure to allergens like pollen, dust mites, mold, or pet dander.
Non-Allergic Asthma: Not triggered by allergens but by factors such as stress, exercise, cold air, or respiratory infections.
Occupational Asthma: Caused by exposure to workplace irritants or allergens like chemicals, dust, or gases.
Seasonal Asthma: Like allergic asthma, seasonal asthma is triggered by allergic reactions, but these allergens are tree, grass, and/or weed pollens traveling in the air during their peak seasons.
Eosinophilic Asthma: This is a subtype characterized by elevated levels of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in the airways. It often responds well to certain targeted biological therapies that aim to reduce inflammation by targeting specific immune pathways.
Exercise-induced Asthma: Asthma symptoms show up during exercise or physical activity.
Nocturnal Asthma: These asthma symptoms can occur in a patient with any type of asthma, but those symptoms increase or worsen at night.
Treatment of Asthma
Bronchodilators: Relax muscles around the airways, making breathing easier.
Inhaled Corticosteroids: Reduce inflammation in the airways, preventing symptoms.
Combination Inhalers: Contain both a corticosteroid and a long-acting bronchodilator for symptom control.
Biologics: Target specific immune system pathways, such as eosinophils, to reduce inflammation in severe asthma cases.
Identifying and avoiding triggers like allergens, smoke, or pollution.
Using air filters or purifiers indoors.
Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage symptoms.
Emergency Inhalers (Rescue Medications):
Short-acting bronchodilators like albuterol provide quick relief during asthma attacks.
Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy):
For allergic asthma, allergy shots can reduce sensitivity to specific allergens, decreasing asthma symptoms.
Treatment plans are personalized based on the severity and type of asthma, and they may involve a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and regular check-ups with a healthcare provider. Management aims to control symptoms, prevent attacks, and improve overall lung function and quality of life for individuals with asthma. Eosinophilic asthma, in particular, may be targeted with specialized biological therapies to address the specific immune response involved in this subtype.
If you're suffering from uncontrolled asthma or seeking better management of your symptoms, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with us. Our team is here to provide personalized care and support tailored to your needs. Taking this step can lead to improved asthma control and a better quality of life.