Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition in which the lining of the airways or bronchial tubes become inflamed and irritated.  The muscles around the airways can also tighten leading to recurrent cough, shortness of breath or wheezing. The majority of patients with asthma have allergic triggers, but there are several other things that cause asthma symptoms as well.  There is a genetic predisposition for developing asthma. Scientific research has shown that treating children who have only allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies) with allergen immunotherapy can decrease the chances of developing asthma later in life. 

Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing with exercise or exertion
  • Fatigue  

TRIGGERS INCLUDE:

  • Exercise
  • Infections
  • Cold air
  • Exposure to irritants in the air such as perfume and cigarette smoke
  • Exposure to allergens in the air such as pollens, dust mite allergens, animal danders and mold
  • Certain medications can trigger asthma in some patients
  • Emotional stress
  • Weather changes
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease/LPR

TESTING

Breathing tests are performed in the office to evaluate your lung function and breathing.  In some cases, further testing such as a flow volume loop, methacholine challenge or a chest x ray is needed.  After a thorough history and physical exam, your provider will discuss which test(s) are recommended.

Pulmonary Function Testing (Spirometry):   This is the most common type of breathing test performed in the office.   It measures the amount of air exhaled at different time points during complete exhalation.   This test is often performed before and after treatment with a bronchodilator (medication for asthma) to see if there is an improvement after the medication.  

Flow Volume Loops:  This test is similar to spirometry (described above) but it also measures how air passes through the upper airway and vocal cords. 

Methacholine Challenge:  This test measures airway responsiveness to an inhaled substance called methacholine.   It can help determine if you have asthma if the other tests are not diagnostic or inconclusive.

Chest X-Ray: Radiographic pictures of the lung

TREATMENT

The board certified allergist's goal is to help patients manage their asthma and allergies so they can lead healthy, normal lives.  The strong emphasis placed on individualized patient care has been part of the clinic's philosophy of practice for over 75 years.

  • Asthma trigger avoidance: your allergist will provide guidance on how to reduce exposures to your allergy and asthma triggers 
  • Asthma treatment plan: your allergist will help you create a mutually agreed upon plan of care for your asthma 
  • Medications:   There are numerous medications used for asthma.   Patients with asthma need a reliever inhaler (bronchodilator) which can be used to help treat asthma symptoms when they occur OR it can be used before exercise to prevent symptoms. Albuterol is the most common bronchodilator used.  Some patients need a daily, controller therapy to manage their asthma.   Your provider will recommend which treatments are best for you.