What is asthma?

What is asthma?
doctor's office stethoscope

doctor's office stethoscope

Asthma is a disease of the lungs that occurs worldwide and affects more than 20 million people in the United States. It is one of the most common chronic illnesses in childhood. Symptoms include cough, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath caused by airway inflammation and constriction.

While there is no cure, asthma can be controlled with a good understanding of your triggers and the right treatment plan. Environmental allergens contribute to inflammation and trigger airway constriction in over 60 percent of patients. Other important triggers include viral infections, tobacco smoke exposure, air pollution and exercise.

A comprehensive plan includes environmental review, self-management strategies, understanding the difference between rescue and controller medications, and proper inhaler technique. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination are important prevention strategies.

Ask yourself not only how your asthma is today, but how has it been over the last 4 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year.

So, what are the goals of asthma control? They are:
• To be able to play and exercise without difficulty
• To be able to sleep at night without asthma related sleep disturbance
• Not to miss days at school or work from asthma
• Not to need urgent care or emergency room visits for asthma

How can you know if asthma is under control? Ask yourself these questions:
• Do daytime symptoms occur more than twice a week?
• Do nighttime symptoms occur more than twice a month?
• Are you using rescue inhaler medication more than twice a week?
• Are you having difficulty with exercise because of asthma?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, your asthma may not be controlled.

The Asthma Control Test is a very simple set of questions to assess your or your child’s asthma: asthmacontrol.com. You can answer these questions periodically to measure control over the last 4 weeks.

The goal of asthma should be normal or near normal quality of life. Talk to your doctor if your asthma is not controlled.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Providing allergy, asthma and immunology care in Vancouver, Wash., Dr. Srinivasan practices at The Vancouver Clinic at Salmon Creek and holds a B.S. in bioengineering from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and a medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He completed a residency in internal medicine, as well as a fellowship in allergy/immunology at the University of Rochester in New York.

As of July 11, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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