What is asthma?

If you have asthma, you know how difficult it can be to breathe clearly when you have a flair up. Asthma, a chronic disease that causes airways to swell, can cause several symptoms, including:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing (whistling or scratching sound when breathing)
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest tightness

While asthma is a lifelong disease, most people have periodic attacks separated by symptom-free periods. Sudden asthma attacks, or exacerbations, can last from a few minutes to days. If left untreated, they can be dangerous.

Who is most likely to get asthma?

In recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted a steady increase in the number of cases. While you can develop asthma at any age, it is increasingly common in children. In addition, you are at a greater risk if you have a family history of asthma or suffer from allergies.

How is asthma diagnosed?

If you suspect that you or a loved one has asthma, you should see an asthma specialist. Our board-certified allergists are experts in diagnosing and treating both adult and pediatric asthma.

What triggers an asthma attack?

A variety of factors may provoke an attack. Common triggers include:

  • Allergic: Animal dander, mold, dust mites, pollen and certain food allergies.
  • Environmental: Changes in weather, air pollutants and irritants such as tobacco smoke
  • Lifestyle: Exercise, stress and strong emotions
  • Medications: Some pain drugs and beta blockers
  • Other medical conditions: Respiratory infections and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

How do you treat asthma?

Once you have been diagnosed, your allergist can help you to treat and manage your asthma. The goal is to control inflammation, avoid triggers and treat sudden attacks. This is done through a variety of short- and long-term medications, including different inhaled medications and injection therapies.

Xolair injections are also available for those who qualify. These injections are given every two or every four weeks at your physician’s office.

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