According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 18.4 million people suffer from asthma. Pulmonologist Timothy Killeen, MD, says it can result in wheezing, coughing, breathlessness and tightening of the chest, and often needs to be controlled by medicine. Here, he shares some insight on asthma symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
Q: Is there more than one type of asthma?
Yes, there are several different types of asthma. The most common diagnoses include allergic asthma, reactive airway disease (RAD), and exercise-induced asthma. If there is a family history of asthma or allergies, your doctor may recommend a consult with a specialist, who can do further testing to confirm diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Q: What symptoms should I watch for?
Symptoms can vary, but the most common for asthma include night coughing; rapid, labored breathing; wheezing; chest tightness; and frequent colds that are centered in the chest. You may notice these more if you are exercising or engaging in strenuous activities. If you have severe asthma, you may experience these symptoms more frequently, and performing daily activities will be extremely difficult. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.
Q: What causes asthma attacks?
The most common culprits include cigarette, grass and tree pollens, air pollution, molds, dust mites, smoke or pet dander. However, exercise-induced asthma can be brought on by physical activities and sports. Stress and anxiety, as well as sinusitis or a common cold, and exposure to cold, dry air, may also play a role in triggering an attack. Knowing triggers is the best way to alleviate a potential asthma attack.
Q: What is the best way to manage my asthma?
An asthma specialist can identify your triggers and create an emergency treatment plan in the event you have a severe attack. The goal is usually to prevent symptoms and reduce the frequency of using a rescue inhaler, while maintaining near-normal lung function. Your doctor will prescribe medicine for emergencies and to ward off asthma attacks. This can also minimize ER visits and potential hospitalizations.
Learn about emergency services at Temecula
If you think you might have asthma, speak to your doctor or see an asthma specialist. To find a doctor, call our free physician referral line at 855-859-5203.