Asthma is the most common chronic disease among both children and adults that interferes with their daily activities and may lead to life-threatening attacks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that more than 26 million people in America have asthma. It is an inflammatory disease of the airways that hinders breathing and certain physical activities.
Asthma is a condition in which the lining of your airways swell and tightens the surrounding muscles. Mucus fills the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs, which results in coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. If you are living with asthma, take an active role in managing its symptoms and the proper treatment to avoid long term problems to live well with this condition.
In this post, our internal medicine doctors have outlined major symptoms, types, and conditions that trigger asthma as well as propose effective treatments that can help you gain insights into this medical condition and help manage it successfully.
Types & Symptoms of Asthma
Do you know different types of asthma? Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. Some people with asthma may have symptoms every day or during exercise or when exposed to allergy-causing substances while others may experience periodic worsening of their symptoms as asthma attacks. Understanding the types of asthma you have can help you determine which symptoms you experience and help you seek the right treatment.
Bronchial asthma is the most common type of asthma that affects the bronchi in the lungs. Other types of asthma with specific signs and symptoms include:
- Occupational Asthma – This type of asthma is induced by workplace irritants such as dust, gases, fumes, industrial chemicals, dyes, rubber latex or animal proteins. Its symptoms are a runny nose, nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, cough, and eye irritation.
- Exercise-Induced Asthma – Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) is triggered by physical exertion or exercise. It affects people within a few minutes of starting exercise and worsens 10-15 minutes after ending up physical activity. You may have symptoms of an asthma attack and can use an asthma inhaler as advised by your primary care doctor.
- Cough-Variant Asthma (CVA) – The predominant symptom of this type of asthma is a dry, severe cough. Asthma triggers for CVA are generally exercise and respiratory infections. This type of asthma is broadly underdiagnosed and undertreated. If you have a persistent cough, it is best to see your internist.
- Allergic Asthma – Many of the same substances that trigger allergies can also affect people with asthma. Allergic or extrinsic asthma results from allergens like pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander or spores. It often goes hand-in-hand with seasonal allergies and may lead to coughing, runny nose, and watery eyes.
- Non-Allergic Asthma – Non-allergic or intrinsic asthma is triggered by airborne irritants that are not related to allergies such as air fresheners, perfumes, burning wood, household cleaning products or viral illnesses.
- Night Time (Nocturnal) Asthma – Your asthma symptoms of a cough, wheezing and trouble breathing worsen at night time as this type of asthma is majorly influenced by the sleep-wake cycle. Heartburn, dust mites and pet dander may cause asthma at night.
Asthma Triggers & Risk Factors
Wondering why you have asthma and others don’t? It may be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Understanding and identifying asthma triggers can help you take an active role in controlling and reducing its effects. Some of the factors that cause asthma include:
- The family history of asthma or genetics
- Exposure to allergens and irritants
- Strong emotions and stress
- Extreme weather conditions
- Food and food additives
- Viral infections
- Certain medications like aspirin, naproxen
How Does an Internist Diagnose Asthma?
Getting a proper asthma diagnosis from your general practitioner is the first step to manage this chronic disease. If you observe any of the aforementioned symptoms, schedule your visit to the doctor of internal medicine. Your internist will use a variety of criteria to accurately diagnose and prescribe the right treatment for your asthma.
Based on your asthma symptoms, your primary care physician may conduct a skin test to look for signs of an allergic reaction or may use pulmonary function tests (PFTs) to measure the flow of air into and out of your lungs.
Effective Asthma Treatments
Your doctor will prescribe any or a combination of the following treatments for asthma based on the triggers and type of asthma you have.
- Breathing Exercises – Exercises for asthma can help boost airflow into and out of your lungs which may increase lung capacity and reduce severe asthma symptoms.
- Asthma Medications – Asthma inhalers, nebulizers, bronchodilators, and anti-inflammatory drugs should be used to prevent asthma attacks. The dosages can be taken daily or as recommended by your internal medicine doctor.
If you or your loved one has asthma, getting the right treatment from a doctor of internal medicine in Brooklyn, NYC of the reputable clinic like Artisans of Medicine can help you live a normal, active life.