Caring for Lung Diseases: Controlling Your Asthma
Suffering from wheezing, coughing fits at a certain time of day or a tight feeling in your chest? You may be dealing with asthma, a common condition that impacts the lungs. While asthma is a chronic condition, its symptoms don’t have to be. There are many ways to control your asthma and take back control of your breathing.
Asthma has many triggers, both genetic and from the environment. Triggers can include airborne allergens (such as mold or animal dander), air pollution (such as smoke or ozone), food sensitivities, exercise, or illness. While an exact cause hasn’t been identified, risk factors for developing asthma include having other family members with asthma, routine exposure to smoke or pollutants and having allergies or certain skin conditions (such as eczema).
Asthma is diagnosed through a physical exam, screening questions to determine the extent of its impact on your daily life and breathing tests to measure how much air enters and exits your lungs. Based on your results, you and your doctor will work together to create a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle.
Common ways to keep asthma under control include:
- Daily medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids. These work preventatively to keep your airway open, stopping inflammation that can lead to an asthma attack.
- Rescue inhalers, which act quickly to provide relief during an asthma attack. These are used on an as-needed basis and are not intended as a long-term medication.
- Extremely severe cases of asthma can be treated through the use of heat, a procedure called bronchial thermoplasty. Thermal heat is applied to swollen muscles in the lungs, reducing inflammation so they become less reactive to asthma triggers.
- Avoiding or treating your underlying asthma triggers, be it staying away from environmental allergens, reducing time spent outside when air quality is low, altering your exercise regimen or treating allergies that cause a reaction.
- Add humidity and heat to your air to soothe your airways.
- Get your flu shot and take preventative measures against colds and other viruses which may trigger asthma attacks.
Managing your asthma is an ever-evolving process. It’s important to tailor the right combination of treatments that works for you, as well as to adapt your treatment plan as your asthma changes. To get started on your personalized asthma management plan call Westgate Family Physicians at (864) 574-0070.