Asthma is one of the leading caused of work and school absenteeism. It is estimated that 26 million individuals suffer from asthma in the United States. At Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Associates we provide specialized asthma care for children and adults. By assisting patients to identify triggers and devising personalized treatment plans, we have helped thousands of patients live happy, healthy, active lives.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, which results in difficulty breathing. Asthma generally develops in childhood and may sometimes resolve with age, however many individuals continue to experience asthma or asthma related symptoms into adulthood. Additionally, there are cases of adult onset asthma where an individual is not diagnosed with asthma until after the age of 18. Asthma is known to have a strong genetic component, which means that if you have asthma, there is a chance that others in your family may have asthma as well.
There are various subtypes of asthma however the underlying issue is the same, lung inflammation leading to narrowing of the airways. Some common subtypes of asthma include:
Allergic Asthma is triggered by allergic reactions to allergens such as dust mites, mold, pollen, or pet dander.
Occupational asthma is triggered irritants such as chemical fumes, dust, or gases that are encountered often times in industrial/workplace environments. Individuals who experience occupational asthma often realize that their symptoms seem to worsen on days they are working and disappear on days they are absent from work.
Exercise-induced asthma is when asthma symptoms are triggered only during times of physical stress, such as exercising or physical activity.
Nocturnal asthma is when asthma symptoms are experienced are either increased or only experienced during the nighttime. Anyone with asthma may experience nocturnal asthma.
Eosinophilic asthma is when asthma symptoms are present with high levels of white blood cells called eosinophils. Individuals with eosinophilic asthma tend to experience severe asthma symptoms. This subset of asthma affects adults more often than children.
Asthma symptoms can occur infrequently, daily, weekly, or monthly. The severity of asthma symptoms can range from mild to severe persistent. Common symptoms of asthma include:
- Shortness Of Breath
- Chest Tightness
Several factors are assessed when evaluating a patient for asthma, including medical history, physical examination, onset of symptoms, duration of symptoms, timing of symptoms, and persistence of symptoms. At Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Associates a Board Certified physician evaluates each patient and orders further testing as needed on a case-by-case basis. Tests for asthma include:
- In Office Spirometry / Lung Function Tests
- Chest X-Ray
- Sinus X-Ray
Since up to 80% of childhood asthma patients and 70% of adult asthma patients suffer from allergies, allergy control becomes the single greatest factor to target for most patients. Through obtaining control of their allergies, most patients experience significant control over their asthma. At Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Associates we have helped thousands of asthmatics identify and eliminate allergens that have exacerbated their asthma for years.
Along with allergen control, asthmatics may benefit from several medications currently available:
Rescue medicines provide relief for sudden asthma symptoms. These medications start to alleviate asthma symptoms within a few minutes by relaxing airway muscles and allowing flow though the airways. These medications are available in the form of an inhaler or aerosolized with a nebulizer.
Common rescue medications include:
- Ventolin HFA
- ProAir HRA
- Proventil HFA
- Xopenex HFA
Children who use a rescue inhaler may benefit from a device called a spacer. This device helps children properly inhale the medication into the lungs.
Controller medicines provide for long-term control of asthma and to prevent future symptoms. The decision to use controller medicines depends of the frequency of severity of asthma symptoms. All controller medicines work by reducing the inflammation in the airways, which allows for the proper flow of air.
Common Controller medications include:
- Breo Ellipta
Most patients experience mild to moderate asthma that can be successfully managed on a combination of rescue and controller medicines. However 5-10 percent of asthmatics fail to obtain proper asthma control through these methods. For these individuals a relatively new group of prescription medications, called biologics, have become available. These medications work by targeting specific pathways that link inflammation to asthma.
Biologic treatment is currently an option for:
- Allergic Asthma
- Eosinophilic Asthma