Breathing is a breeze for most people. But asthma can undermine this simple act. If you've recently been diagnosed with asthma, learning about the disease and its treatments can help you stay in control. Start here with these three key facts:
1. Asthma doesn't go away. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that develops in people of all ages. When you have asthma, you won't always have symptoms, but the airways in your lungs are always inflamed. They become tight and narrow if you breathe in what's known as a trigger, such as pollen, smoke, pet dander or dust. This can cause your asthma to flare up. As a result, you might cough, wheeze, become short of breath or feel your chest get tight.
2. Asthma needs an action plan. Ask your doctor what specific steps you need to take to control your asthma. You should be able to lead a normal life with few (if any) symptoms. As part of your care, you should follow an asthma action plan. Among other things, your plan will help you understand how to avoid your specific asthma triggers. And it will include a list of the medicines you need to take.
Medicines called long-term controllers help control asthma symptoms. So if they're prescribed for you, it's important to take them even when you feel fine. You will also need a quick-relief medicine—often called a rescue inhaler—that can help stop an asthma attack once it starts. Carry your inhaler with you at all times in case you have a sudden attack.
3. Asthma can be severe, even life-threatening. Never underestimate the seriousness of this disease—people do die from asthma. That's why it's important to get emergency medical help for a severe asthma attack. Your action plan will spell out when to do that. For instance, it may advise you to seek emergency care if you become very short of breath or if your symptoms do not get better when you take your quick-relief medicine.
Schedule an appointment with an allergy, asthma and immunology physician at our Main or South location by calling 863-680-7486.
Sources: American Lung Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute