What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which the lining of the airways become inflamed and swollen and muscle spasms restrict the flow of air to the lungs. It is a relatively common condition and the incidence of the disease has grown in recent years. Currently, it is estimated that 12 million Americans – including more than four million children – have asthma.

What are Common Asthma Symptoms?

If you experience difficulty breathing, a tight feeling in the chest, coughing, and wheezing, you may suffer from asthma. Sometimes a chronic cough is the only symptom, and many of these cases go undiagnosed. The symptoms of asthma are most frequently noted at night and in the morning, but an asthma episode can happen at any time. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening attacks which require immediate emergency treatment.

What Causes Asthma?

Although the exact cause of asthma is still being studied, it is known to be a combination of inflammation of the lung combined with the narrowing of the lung passages activated by the body’s immune system. There are a number of factors that are known to trigger an asthma episode including:

  • Exposure to Allergens

-Substances that cause an allergic reaction in some individuals include pollen, dust mold, feathers, animal dander, & some foods.

  • Viral Infections

-Simple colds can cause severe asthma exacerbation.

  • Exercise
    -Most people with asthma can benefit from an exercise program with pre-treatment & proper monitoring.
  • Emotional Stress
  • Weather Conditions

-Most people with asthma can benefit from an exercise program with pre-treatment & proper monitoring.

What can I Expect from Treatment?

With proper diagnosis and treatment by an asthma specialist, most people with asthma can pursue normal lifestyles and expect to:

  • Sleep through the night without disruptive coughing episodes, and awaken with a clear chest in the morning.
  • Avoid acute asthma “attacks” and eliminate the need for emergency room visits or hospitalization.
  • Prevent missed days from work or school.
  • Lead a full life with normal physical activity.

This information has been provided by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

We Can Help!

Effectively controlling asthma and allergies requires planning, skill and patience. Tests can be done to identify allergens which cause allergies. The allergist, with his or her specialized training and expertise in managing asthma and allergies, can develop a treatment plan for your individual condition. The goal will be to enable you to lead a life that is as normal and symptom-free as possible.

Who is an Allergist?

A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergies is an allergist. All of the allergists in our office are Board Certified allergy specialists of the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology who have passed a qualifying examination and are specially trained to identify the factors that trigger asthma or allergies, and help the patient to prevent or treat them.

When should I see an Allergist?

Allergy sufferers may become so accustomed to chronic symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion or wheezing that they do not consider their condition to be unusual. Yet, with the help of an allergist, these symptoms can usually be prevented or controlled and the patient’s quality of life greatly improved.

You should see an Allergist when…

  • Your allergies are causing secondary symptoms such as chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion or difficulty breathing.
  • You experience hay fever or other allergy symptoms several months out of the year.
  • Antihistamines and other over-the-counter medications do not control your allergy symptoms or create unacceptable side effects, such as drowsiness.
  • Your asthma or allergies are interfering with your ability to carry on day-to-day activities.
  • Your asthma or allergies decrease the quality of your life.
  • You are experiencing warning signs of asthma such as:
  1. You occasionally have to struggle to catch your breath.
  2. You often wheeze or cough, especially at night or after exercise.
  3. You are frequently short of breath or feel tightness in your chest.
  4. You have previously been diagnosed with asthma but, despite treatment, you still have frequent acute asthma attacks.

Managing Asthma During Pregnancy

Proper control and treatment of your asthma and allergies, including regular visits with your doctor to evaluate and monitor your symptoms and medication, will help promote a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Will my Pregnancy Affect the Severity of my Asthma?

Your asthma may become worse during your pregnancy, especially if your condition is considered severe. The hormonal changes that occur during your pregnancy may affect your nose, sinuses and lungs, causing congestion and shortness of breath. Your doctor will help you determine if these symptoms are actually caused by allergies. A safe and effective treatment plan will be prescribed.

Can I use my Asthma & Allergy Medications while I am Pregnant & Nursing?

Today there are many excellent medications for treating asthma and allergies which have been found to be safe. Although no medication can be proven entirely safe for use during pregnancy, you and your doctor will work together to develop a treatment plan that carefully provides control of allergy symptoms with safe and effective medications for you and your baby. Medications that are safe during pregnancy are also safe during nursing.

Can I Receive Allergy Shots When I am Pregnant?

If you currently are receiving allergy shots for the treatment of your asthma and/or allergies, they can be safely continued during pregnancy. It is not recommended, however, that allergy shots are initiated during pregnancy. If allergy shots are needed, wait until your baby has been delivered.