Asthma is a lung condition that makes it difficult to breathe due to airways that are either narrowed or blocked. There’s two common kinds of asthma: extrinsic (or allergic) and intrinsic (or nonallergic) asthma.
If you suffer from asthma, you may have mild to moderate symptoms most of the time followed by periods of exacerbation, in which your symptoms become suddenly severe and debilitating. Because the way you experience asthma can vary so greatly from one day to the next, having a proactive asthma action plan is imperative to manage the disease.
The signs and symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and mucous production. These symptoms range from mild to severe, sometimes even from one day to the next, and many patients note that their symptoms are worse at night.
There’s no cure for asthma, but there are many effective treatment options. If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, your healthcare provider’s goal is to manage your symptoms and limit the impact they have on your daily life.
Asthma is controlled using one or a combination of medications. Preventive medications, also called long-term control medications, are taken every day to help manage your symptoms. These might include:
In addition, most patients need quick-relief medications on hand to address flare-ups, commonly called asthma attacks. Quick-relief medications may include anticholinergics, short-acting bronchodilators, or oral corticosteroids.
Also, avoidance of triggers can sometimes actually reduce asthma symptoms.
No single trigger applies to all patients with asthma. If you have asthma, your doctor can help you determine your triggers and make suggestions to limit exposure. Common asthma triggers include allergens, first or second-hand cigarette smoke, physical exertion, cold or moist air, certain chemicals/fumes, certain medications, or upper respiratory infections.
Asthma causes death for 14 Americans a year. While this number is small, especially in comparison to the 20 million Americans who have asthma, the providers at Van Nuys Urgent Care Family Medicine take this risk seriously. Appropriate preventive medical care is imperative to manage asthma successfully.
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