Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects 25 million people. The disease inflames and narrows the airways, causing periods of wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness. Asthma usually starts in childhood and there is no cure. Even if you’re feeling fine, you could have a flare up at any time. An understanding of the disease, paired with the appropriate treatment, will allow you to manage your asthma and live an active lifestyle. There are many triggers that cause asthma. You’re more likely to develop it if someone in your family has it.
Who Is at Risk?
Asthma can affect people of all ages but it usually starts in childhood. Young children who are prone to respiratory infections and wheezing are at the highest risk of developing asthma. Other risk factors include having eczema, allergies and parents who have asthma.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Wheezing (whistling or squeaky noise while breathing)
- Coughing (often worse at night or in the morning)
- Sputum production
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Cigarette smoke, air pollution and other irritants
- Allergens from dust, animal fur, mold and pollens
- Sulfites in food and beverages
- Medicines such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Colds and other viral upper respiratory infections
- Exercise and other physical activity
Although asthma is a long-term disease that has no cure, it can be managed with the appropriate treatment plan:
- Avoid asthma triggers
- Take your medications properly (aerosol nebulizer therapy, metered dose inhalers)
- Track your symptoms and triggers
- Get regular checkups
- Respond to worsening symptoms
Two types of medicines treat asthma: long-term control and quick-relief medicines. Your physician will decide which is best for you. Franciscan offers medication compressors, nebulizers, metered dose inhalers and spacers to address your needs.
Tracking Your Symptoms:
Peak flow meters are instrumental to measuring how well air moves out of your lungs. The portable, handheld device measures how well your lungs are working at the time of the test. You blow forcefully into the device and it gives you a score, or peak flow number. Your physician may ask you to use your peak flow meter every morning and record the results before and after medication use. Incentive spirometers are also available from Franciscan. These devices exercise your lungs and help you keep your lungs healthy by teaching you how to take slow, deep breaths.