Asthma

Charter Health PC

Internal Medicine & Primary Care located in Lynn, MA

Asthma sufferers deserve access to the right treatment to improve their breathing and overall quality of life. Asthma is not curable but it is a very controllable disease when properly diagnosed and managed. The expert team at Charter Health PC in Lynn, Massachusetts, is uniquely qualified to help. We have extensive experience in diagnosing and managing patients with asthma. Call the office or click the online scheduler to get the caring asthma support you need now.

Asthma Q & A

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease in which the lung airways become inflamed and fill with mucus. This leads to narrowing of the airways which leads to difficulty breathing. Uncontrolled asthma interferes with a person’s daily activities, ability to exercise, and quality of sleep. A severe episode of asthma is called an asthma attack and requires medication that opens the airways.

Asthma attacks and chronic symptoms of asthma can be avoided with proper diagnosis and treatment.

What are the symptoms of an asthma attack?

Asthma attacks usually include some or all of these symptoms.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • A feeling of chest constriction or tightness

You may also have other symptoms, including stress and anxiety, related to the struggle to breathe.

What causes asthma attacks?

Various environmental exposures or triggers lead to asthma attacks and these vary from person to person based on one’s genetics and history. It’s important to work with your Charter Health PC provider to identify what triggers your asthma and to develop a plan to avoid these triggers or minimize their impact on you. Some of the most common asthma triggers include:

  • Smoke
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander, especially cats
  • Pollen, mold
  • Exercise
  • Cold air
  • Bacterial or viral infections like bronchitis, pneumonia, or flu

You can sometimes make changes in your daily life to minimize your exposure to the triggers. But since some triggers cannot be avoided, many people with asthma require controller medications to control their response to triggers. Although this may not eliminate your asthma completely, it can help you greatly reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.

How is asthma diagnosed?

Asthma is diagnosed by taking an in-depth patient history, performing a physical exam, and often ordering breathing tests that measure the patient’s lung function. Other medical conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema need to be considered as possible causes before making a final diagnosis. A patient’s lung function can be measured using either simple peak flow meters or spirometry. A peak flow meter measures how forcefully a person can breath out a full breath of air.

Spirometry is a more advanced study that measures how much air a person can blast out in 1 second and also the total amount of air a person can exhale after a single deep breath. These lung function tests are often repeated after a patient inhales a medication called albuterol which relaxes and opens the airways to see if there is an improvement with the medication.

What is the treatment for asthma?

Asthma treatment generally falls into two categories: rescue treatments and long-term, controller treatments.

Rescue treatments

 

Quick-acting bronchodilators, also known as rescue inhalers, are the most common asthma rescue treatment. You use these rescue inhalers when you are experiencing asthma symptoms or, for those with exercise-induced asthma, before exercising. Rescue inhalers take effect immediately, opening your lung passages within seconds to help you breathe.

Long-term asthma control

Long-term asthma control treatments focus on reducing inflammation in the airways to keep them clear and open. These treatments come in a number of forms, including inhalers and oral medication. If you take your long-term asthma control medication consistently every day, the frequency of your asthma attacks should go down considerably.

Many asthma sufferers find it helpful to have both rescue and long-term control medications.

Your Charter Health PC care providers have extensive experience in asthma education, management, and research, so they know what you need for asthma relief. Book your appointment online or by phone today.