According to the CDC, about 1 in 13 people, or 25 million people in the US have asthma. Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that causes the airways to swell and narrow, making it more difficult to breathe. As a result, someone with asthma may experience wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, or trouble breathing.
Asthma is serious and an attack can be deadly if left untreated. While there is no cure for asthma, it can be well managed with the proper medication. If you are having trouble breathing or experiencing other symptoms of asthma it’s time to see an otolaryngologist for a proper evaluation.
Even though asthma is often diagnosed in childhood it is possible for asthma to occur in adults, too. The cause of asthma is still not fully understood; however, it’s believed that it’s a combination of environmental triggers and genes. Therefore, if a family member has asthma you are more likely to develop asthma, too. Furthermore, allergies and certain childhood viral infections can also lead to the development of asthma. Some asthma triggers include:
- Cigarette smoke
- Dust mites
- Air pollution
- Cold air
- Respiratory infections
Sometimes asthma symptoms get overlooked or are misdiagnosed as a respiratory infection or cold; however, if you or your child is experiencing recurring colds it’s a good idea to see an ENT doctor to determine if it could be asthma. Leaving asthma untreated can be life threatening.
No matter when asthma develops, the treatment for both children and adults is relatively the same. Your asthma & allergy doctor will provide you with a regular maintenance medication that you will use everyday to help reduce airway inflammation and to prevent an attack from occurring in the first place.
Along with maintenance medication your doctor will also prescribe a fast-acting medication. This should only be used when asthma symptoms flare-up. The moment you notice chest tightness, wheezing or others symptoms it’s important that you use your quick-relief inhaler, which will immediately relax the muscles around the airways to make it easier to breathe.
Along with medication there are also lifestyle modifications that can reduce your exposure to asthma triggers. Your treatment plan will be tailored to your triggers, lifestyle, and health to reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
If you or your child is having trouble breathing it’s important to see your otolaryngologist right away to find out if asthma is to blame.