Like allergies and migraines, asthma is a medical condition that activates or worsens in response to specific triggers. These triggers are different from person to person and can include environmental or stress-related factors. Asthma sufferers can learn to identify these triggers while undergoing treatment to reduce asthmatic episodes. Call your Century Medical and Dental Center today to get your asthma symptoms under control.
When your airways narrow on a regular basis due to swelling or extra mucus, your Century Medical and Dental Center doctor of internal medicine may give you a diagnosis of asthma. Narrowed airways make breathing difficult and cause wheezing, shortness of breath and a nagging cough. You may experience asthma occasionally, or you may find asthma interfering with your everyday life and activities.
While asthma can’t be cured, your Brooklyn doctor helps you learn to manage your symptoms so you not only enjoy your daily life, but also reduce the chance of developing a life-threatening attack. Asthma symptoms and triggers often change over time, so you must remain in regular, close contact with your doctor. Let a professional guide you to best cope with your asthma diagnosis.
You may experience asthma symptoms only after exercising or during the cold and flu season. Alternatively, you may have to fight asthma symptoms on a regular basis. Regardless, some of the symptoms you’ll face include:
- A tight, heavy feeling in your chest, possibly accompanied by pain
- Shortness of breath even when sitting down or resting
- Wheezing breath and coughing fits that worsen whenever you’re fighting a virus, such as a cold or the flu
- Problems when sleeping, due to the trouble you have catching your breath
- A need for inhalers to clear your air passageways
- A decrease in lung capacity as measured with a peak flow meter
Children especially may experience a whistling or wheezing noise when they try to exhale or inhale. Some people notice their asthma worsens when exposed to allergens, when exercising in cold, dry weather, or in the presence of fumes, dust or gases in the workplace. Because asthma can develop or worsen quickly, talk to your doctor about any breathing issues you experience.
Causes and Risk Factors
Asthma frustrates many people because even with definite triggers, it’s not clear why some people develop symptoms and some don’t. There seems to be a genetic component and environmental aggravations. Certain triggers may seem common to those individuals fighting asthma symptoms. They include:
- Any kind of lung or respiratory infection, which lowers your resistance and aggravates lung symptoms
- Allergens often associated with hay fever, including dust, mold, pollen and pet dander
- Physical exertion from exercise or physical labor
- Smoke from cigarettes, including second-hand smoke
- Anxiety or stress, which aggravates symptoms, making a normal or common asthma attack worse
- Medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, beta blockers and naproxen
- Severe acid reflux disease attacks that trigger asthma symptoms
- Preservatives and sulfites found in processed potatoes, dried fruit, shrimp and alcohol
Individuals who have are overweight, smoke, live or work with someone who smokes, are exposed to triggers, fight other allergic conditions, or have a family member with asthma may be at a higher risk for developing the condition. Obesity often aggravates your symptoms. Complications from asthma include:
- Decreasing your lung capacity
- Putting a strain on your heart
- Having your sleep interrupted
- Missing work or school days
- Suffering the long-term effects of some of the medications used to control asthma
At Century Medical and Dental Center, you find multiple medical specialties in one place. If necessary, your medical internist can consult with a specialist in allergies, for example. You get the best care because an entire team of specialists is available to you. When you meet your doctor, the first step is to classify your asthma based on the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
This classification involves the number of times a month that symptoms are present. You may suffer mild, intermittent occurrences of two days and nights a month, or you may feel severe, persistent symptoms that happen most days and nights during any given month. The classification process determines your treatment plan.
Because asthma symptoms can progress, long-term control and prevention remain essential. Your doctor in Brooklyn instructs you regarding medications and natural asthma treatments, including:
- Tracking your breathing problems and other symptoms, along with your daily activities, to better understand the patterns of your condition
- Recognizing and understanding triggers that aggravate your symptoms and avoiding them as much as possible
- Taking long-term, preventive medications tailored to your age, triggers and symptoms, such as:
- Leukotriene modifiers and inhaled corticosteroids taken on a daily basis
- Long-acting beta agonists, not used during an attack
- Theophylline, to relax muscles and keep airways open
- Combination inhalers that mix the agonists with corticosteroids
- Taking rescue medications during a present asthma attack, such as ipratropium, short-acting beta agonists and oral or intravenous corticosteroids to help with inflammation
- Taking allergy medications, either oral or through shots, to control allergic reactions for the asthma cough treatments you receive
- Undergoing an asthma breathing treatment called bronchial thermoplasty, in which your doctor heats the airways with an electrode, reducing muscles and opening passageways to minimize attacks
Preventing symptoms by avoiding triggers remains your best treatment option. If you can learn to identify the early signs of an attack, take prescribed medicine as directed, receive vaccinations for flu or pneumonia, and monitor your breathing, you can enhance your awareness of the condition and control your symptoms. Contact your physicians in Brooklyn at Century Medical and Dental Center today for the help and guidance you need.