Asthma is chronic inflammation of the airways in the lungs. The characteristics of asthma include airway:
Common symptoms of asthma are listed below. However each individual may experience symptoms differently.
Asthma may resemble other respiratory problems, such as emphysema, bronchitis, croup and lower respiratory infections. Consult your healthcare professional for a diagnosis.
The basic cause of the lung abnormality in asthma is not yet known, although it has been established that it involves a special type of inflammation of the airways that lead to the following:
People with asthma have acute symptoms when the air passages in their lungs get narrower because of inflammation.
Although anyone can have an asthma attack, it most commonly occurs in:
To diagnose asthma and distinguish it from other lung disorders, doctors rely on a combination of medical history, physical examination, and specialized breathing tests, which include:
A spirometer is a device used by your health care professional that assesses lung function. The test is performed by blowing as hard as possible into a tube connected to a small machine (a spirometer) that measures the amount of air and speed that is breathed in and out.
This can help:
Peak flow meter
A device is used to measure the fastest speed in which a person can blow air out of the lungs. To use a peak flow meter a person takes a deep breath in and out and then blows as hard and fast as possible into a mouthpiece. During an asthma attack or other respiratory flare-up, the large airways in the lungs slowly begin to narrow. This will slow the speed of air leaving the lungs and can be measured by a PFM. This measurement can help evaluate how well or how poorly the disease is being controlled.
This diagnostic test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
Blood tests are used to analyze the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood.
This can be done by skin prick test or blood to determine if there is an allergic trigger.
Specific treatment for asthma will be determined by your doctor based on:
As of yet, there is no cure for asthma. However, it can be controlled with prescription medications that may help prevent or relieve symptoms, avoidance and treatment of potential triggers, and by learning ways to manage episodes.
The goal of asthma management is ASTHMA CONTROL. People with asthma can learn to identify and avoid triggers. They can also educate themselves about medications and other asthma management strategies.
Asthma is a chronic disease. It has to be cared for all the time, not just when symptoms are present.
The four parts of Asthma Control are:
Working with a health care professional is the best way to take care of asthma. The more information a person with asthma has, the better asthma can be controlled.