What is Asthma?

A chronic lung disease that typically emerges in early childhood, asthma inflames and narrows airways in the lungs while increasing the contractibility of smooth muscles surrounding the airways. This combination of reactions to irritants and/or allergens makes it difficult for asthma sufferers to breathe. Chest tightness, coughing and wheezing (due to excess mucus in the airways) are other classic signs of an asthma attack.

5 Facts about Asthma

  1. Although the exact cause of asthma is unknown, doctors think that it is the contradictory interaction between environmental factors and genetics happening early in life. Children at risk for being diagnosed with asthma include those with at least one parent with asthma, suffering repeated respiratory infections and exposure to certain viral infections during development of the immune system.
  2. More boys than girls have asthma until the age of 15, when more females than males develop asthma. Doctors aren’t sure how or whether sex hormones or gender influences the development of asthma in adolescent and young adult females.
  3. Asthma can affect a person but have no symptoms. Alternately, coughing, wheezing and breathing difficulties does not mean a person has asthma. A professional diagnosis of asthma requires a lung function test, physical exam and knowledge of a patient’s medical history by a physician.
  4. Asthma is classified as intrinsic (non-atopic) or extrinsic (atopic). Classification depends on if symptoms are triggered by allergens (extrinsic) or non-allergenic triggers (intrinsic), such as stress, strong emotions, sunlight, physical activity, etc. Aspirin, NSAIDS, non-selective beta-blockers and other medications may also worsen asthma symptoms.
  5. Occupational asthma is a type of asthma occurring when someone is constantly exposed to industrial particulates or chemical irritants that produce symptoms of asthma. Interestingly, people developing occupational asthma typically have never had an asthma attack.

Treatment for Asthma

Portland-area allergists provide a number of asthma treatments to improve quality of life for asthma sufferers and to minimize the number of recurring asthma attacks. Medications taken daily are called “controller” medications and include corticosteroid inhalers or combination inhalers containing aerosol corticosteroid and LABA (long-acting beta-agonist). Oral asthma medications are leukotriene modifiers.

Quick-acting medications to relieve asthma attacks are meant to rapidly relax inflamed airways to facilitate breathing. These “rescue” medications contain short-acting beta-agonists and should not replace controller medications. If an asthma sufferer needs to depend on quick-acting inhalers two or more times a week to control asthma symptoms, it is time for him or her to visit an allergist in Oregon.

Need Treatment for Asthma? Contact the Allergy, Asthma and Dermatology Associates.

Asthma symptoms should not be ignored or treated with over the counter medications. Avoid complications that could involve a trip to the emergency room by contacting the Allergy, Asthma and Dermatology Associates, one of the best Portland-area practices.

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