Chronic breathing disorders are common in the United States, with approximately one in thirteen Americans living with asthma. This medical condition occurs when your airways swell, narrow, and produce extra mucus, disrupting air passage. Asthma may cause breathing difficulties and trigger coughing and a wheezing sound when exhaling. For some people, asthma may be a minor problem. Still, this health problem is a significant concern as it gets in the way of critical routine activities like quality sleep and may result in a fatal asthma attack. Your Morris Plains Live Urgent Care provider can develop a personalized treatment plan for you to minimize asthma symptoms.
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What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways characterized by an obstruction of airflow from the trachea to the lungs’ air sacs, which may be partially or entirely reversed, with or without specific therapy. It is intermittent reversible airway obstruction. The primary features of asthma include airway obstruction, airway inflammation, and hyper-responsiveness of the airways. Asthma is characterized by various symptoms that include:
- Chest tightness
These symptoms that occur in outbreaks are usually related to specific triggering events. These triggers may vary from person to person. They include but are not limited to:
- Cold air
- Smoke/air pollution
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Paint fumes
- Medications such as aspirin
While it is possible to have symptoms, most people experience asthma symptoms due to triggers like exercise.
How is asthma diagnosed?
To recommend the suitable treatment, your doctor needs to establish how severe the asthma is based on how often you experience the signs and symptoms. Diagnosis is after conducting various diagnostic tests that include:
- Spirometry. Your doctor uses this test to estimate how constricted your bronchial tubes are by checking the amount of air you can exhale after a deep breath and the time it takes you to breathe out.
- Peak flow. This type of test involves using a peak flow meter to determine the strength of your lungs based on how hard you can breathe out. If the peak flow readings are lower than usual, it may indicate that your lungs are not functioning as well and that the asthma is worsening. Patients with lower peak readings are given guidelines on how to manage the same.
Treatment for asthma
Asthma treatment involves using long-term control and quick-relief medication. Long-term management medication addresses the swelling and inflammation in the airways that result in asthma symptoms. Quick-relief inhalers open up the swollen airways used during an asthma attack when a patient experiences breathing difficulties. These medications include:
- Leukotriene modifiers. They include drugs like zileuton and montelukast, which are taken orally. They help relieve asthma symptoms but are associated with psychological reactions such as hallucination, depression, suicidal thinking, and aggression.
- Inhaled corticosteroids. Examples include budesonide, beclomethasone, and fluticasone furoate. Unlike oral corticosteroids, these have a low risk of severe side effects. To experience relief from symptoms, you need to use these drugs for several days or weeks.
If you have asthma symptoms such as chest tightness, coughing, and wheezing, book a session with your specialist at Live Urgent Care for Treatment to prevent asthma flare-ups and improve your quality of life.