Asthma is a chronic lung condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. It is characterized by shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness. Allergies are a frequent cause of asthma in both children and adults. Diagnosis by an allergy specialist is the first step towards treatment.
What Are the Causes of Asthma?
Approximately half of all asthma patients can blame their disease on allergies. When the body encounters an irritant it determines is a threat, the bronchial tubes constrict in response and an excess of mucus is produced. This causes the airways to narrow and restricts breathing.
Common allergens that may be responsible for triggering asthma include pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander.
What Are the Symptoms of Asthma?
Asthma affects every patient differently. Episodes may occur sporadically or on a daily basis.
Telltale signs of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, cough (particularly pronounced at night) and tightness, pain or pressure in the chest. You will have difficulty breathing and can also experience trouble sleeping and fatigue.
How is Asthma Treated?
While there is no cure for asthma, many patients benefit from a combination approach that involves avoiding the allergen trigger and controlling or preventing symptoms with the use of medication.
Drugs such as bronchodilators work by opening the airways and removing mucus from the lungs. Anti-inflammatories are used to reduce swelling and limit mucus production. Other drugs help limit your body’s reaction to allergic substances.
The most common method of taking asthma medication is through use of an inhaler, a small canister that delivers a metered dose of medication when activated. Inhalers are critical during severe allergy attacks, which require immediate medical intervention.