Now more than ever, it can be disconcerting to have difficulties breathing. And while there are many conditions and diseases that can cause breathing issues, today, we are focusing on asthma.
Approximately 25 million Americans have asthma, which can affect individuals of any age. While asthma is not a curable condition, many treatments are available to lessen its effect and make you feel more comfortable during an asthma attack.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow, swell, and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing more difficult and cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Some people with asthma experience minor episodes that cause them only a slight inconvenience. In contrast, others may experience severe asthma attacks that can interfere with daily activities and even lead to life-threatening situations.
There is no cure for asthma, but you can control its symptoms with treatment and medication. A medical professional can help you track your symptoms and provide a treatment plan tailor-made for your needs.
Asthma can look different in different people. Some individuals have infrequent attacks triggered by specific events like exercising, cold air, and allergies. Others have more frequently occurring asthma attacks and may need long-acting inhalers or steroids to help manage symptoms. The most common symptoms of asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing
- Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a cold or the flu
When to See a Doctor
If left untreated, severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Seek medical help if:
- There is rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
- There is no improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler
- You experience shortness of breath when you are doing minimal physical activity
If you already know that you have asthma, you and your doctor can go over your specific symptoms and determine when it's necessary to seek medical help. The following are important reasons to have a doctor monitor your asthma:
- To control your asthma after diagnosis. Long-term control can help you feel better daily and can prevent life-threatening asthma attacks.
- If your asthma symptoms get worse. Contact your doctor right away if your medication doesn't seem to help your symptoms or if you need to use your quick-relief inhaler more often.
- To review your treatment. Asthma symptoms can change over time. Meeting with your doctor regularly to discuss your symptoms can help make needed treatment adjustments to serve you better.
UAB Medical West is Here to Help You Breathe Easy
Leaving your asthma untreated can result in serious complications, hospitalization, and even death. If you or a loved one have asthma, it's important to talk to your health provider about keeping it under control. Schedule an appointment with us today to find out which available asthma treatments could be right for you. UAB Medical West is here to help you breathe easy.