Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs. These airways, or bronchial tubes, allow air to pass through the nose and down the throat into the lungs. If you have asthma your airways are always swollen and red. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. A trigger could be a cold, the weather, or things in the environment such as dust and pet dander. 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. Asthma can start at any age. People with a family history of allergies or asthma are more prone to developing asthma.
There are three things that you should know about asthma:
1. Asthma is chronic. In other words, you live with it every day.
2. It can be serious – even life threatening.
3. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed so you live a normal, healthy life.
The most common symptoms are:
• Shortness of breath
• Chest tightness or pain
• Chronic coughing
• Trouble sleeping due to coughing or wheezing
Asthma symptoms, are often caused by allergies and exposure to allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, pollen or mold. Non-allergic triggers include smoke, pollution or cold air or changes in weather
The doctor diagnoses asthma by taking a thorough medical history, which include family members with asthma, smoking, allergies and performing breathing tests to measure how well your lungs work.
The most common tests are spirometry and exhaled nitric oxide. The tests diagnose asthma severity and measures how well treatment is working.
Many people with asthma also have allergies, so your doctor may perform allergy testing. Treating the underlying allergic triggers for your asthma will help you avoid asthma symptoms.