Asthma Symptoms and Goals for Treatment
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases afflicting both adults and children. Over 20 million Americans suffer from this condition and more than 6 million of them are children.
There are three main features of asthma. Chronic inflammation of the airways in the lung causes swelling of the tissues around these airways and is the most important abnormality in asthma. In addition to this chronic inflammation, the muscles around the walls of the airways will spasm which results in the narrowing of the lumen (inside of the airway or breathing tubes) which restricts the amount of air that flows in and out of the lungs during breathing. As this is not bad enough, the third factor that occurs in patients with asthma is that there is excess mucous production. This increase in mucous will cause a further blockage of the airways as it sits inside the lumens of the breathing tubes. So not only does an asthmatic feel like he or she is breathing from a straw, but now the straw is partially clogged with mucous. These three factors together, lead to the feeling of chest tightness/heaviness, cough, shortness of breath and/or wheezing (a high pitched whistling noise caused
by passage of air through narrowed tubes).
These bothersome symptoms impact the quality of life of an asthmatic. Many experience lost work and/or school days. Sudden flare-ups of asthma can be triggered by exposure to allergens (dust mites, molds, pollens, pets, etc.), strong scents (perfumes, colognes, cleaning fluids, etc.), upper respiratory infections, exercise, cold air, increased humidity, cigarette smoke, medications (certain blood pressure medications, etc.), as well as other factors. Asthma can be life-threatening. However, there are effective treatments available which can control the inflammation, preserve the lung function, and prevent the symptoms and exacerbations of asthma.
The goals of treatment of asthma are to use the least amount of medications that can achieve the above objectives, taking precautions to minimize the side effects. This calls for identification of the specific triggers (which can vary from person to person) and their avoidance, choosing the correct medication (whether is be inhaled, taken by mouth, or injected such as allergy shots) at an appropriate dosage, and close monitoring of symptoms and lung capacity to enable either stepping-up or stepping-down the treatments at regular intervals.
The board certified allergists at Black & Kletz Allergy practice have received advanced training in the management of asthma and constantly keep themselves abreast of the latest developments in evidence based medicine. They are committed to utilize their expertise and years of experience in treating asthma in children and adults to thoroughly educate their patients and offer individualized treatment plans following national guidelines and practice parameters.