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. Matter 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.