Asthma is a chronic condition involving the airways in the lungs. These airways, or bronchial tubes, allow air to come in and out of the lungs. If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness.
For many asthma sufferers, timing of these symptoms is closely related to physical activity. This is called exercise-induced asthma (EIA). People with a family history of allergies or asthma are more prone to developing asthma. Many people with asthma also have allergies, and this type of asthma is known as allergic asthma. Occupational asthma is caused by inhaling fumes, gases, dust or other potentially harmful substances while on the job. Childhood asthma affects millions of children and their families. As a matter of fact, the majority of children who develop asthma do so before the age of five.
An allergist diagnoses asthma by taking a thorough medical history and performing a breathing test in the office to measure how well your lungs work. This test diagnoses asthma severity and measures how well treatment is working. Most people with asthma also have allergies, so your allergist may perform allergy testing. Treating the underlying allergic triggers for your asthma can significantly improve asthma, often requiring less asthma medications.
There is no cure for asthma, but symptoms can be controlled. This involves taking your medications as directed and learning to avoid triggers that cause your asthma symptoms. Your allergist will prescribe the best medications for your condition and provide you with specific instructions for using them.