Asthma is a disorder of the lungs that involves inflammation and constriction of the airways, blocking air from flowing through. These blockages can cause mild coughing to full blown asthma attacks. Asthma is a common disease that affects millions of people each year.
The specific cause of asthma is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain triggers, like allergens, infections, cold air and physical activities, can cause a flare-up of symptoms. Symptoms of asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
- Bouts of coughing or wheezing
- Trouble sleeping due to coughing
- Whistling sound when exhaling (wheezing)
Cases of asthma can vary from occurring a few times a week up to a few times everyday. Certain diagnostic tests like a spirometry and peak flow can be used to diagnose asthma if these symptoms are present.
Although asthma is a serious condition with no cure, it can usually be controlled through long-term medications. Quick-relief medications can also be used to treat attacks. It is important to monitor your asthma symptoms and take measures to avoid triggers and prevent serious attacks.
Wheezing can be heard upon inhaling and exhaling as a whistling sound. It is generally the result of a narrowing of the airways that restricts the movement of air when breathing. Wheezing has many possible causes, including asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), gastroesophageal reflux disease, allergic reactions and bacterial or viral infections. Since wheezing is typically the symptom of another problem, health care providers will usually focus on the treatment of the underlying condition. Therefore, it is vital to see your doctor to obtain a diagnosis and determine the cause of the wheezing. Wheezing may require emergency medical assistance if it is accompanied by shortness of breath, disorientation, a blue tint to the skin or contact with a known allergen.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath occurs when you feel that you are not taking in enough air or it is difficult to breathe. It can be the result of numerous causes, including a blocked airway, reaction to environmental allergens, lung disease, certain heart conditions and severe anxiety or panic attack. If shortness of breath is due to congestion relating to a cold or flu, it will most likely resolve on its own in a few days. However, if you do not know the cause or it is accompanied by chest pain, fever, wheezing or a harsh-sounding cough, you should visit your doctor for an examination.
Contact our office to learn more about Asthma or to make an appointment.