Asthma is a condition whereby an individual develops inflammation of the airways (bronchial tubes). This results in narrowing of the airways and the development of asthma symptoms including shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheeze and cough. Asthma affects 5 to 7% of the population of the United States. During asthma attacks (exacerbations of asthma), the smooth muscle cells in the bronchi constrict, the airways become inflamed and swollen, and breathing becomes difficult. In contrast to COPD it is important to know that asthma is characterized by reversible narrowing of the airways. Therefore it is important for patients with asthma to closely follow their asthma with the help of their health care professional to ensure that they maximize the lung function and well being. Asthma, like other chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, often requires the regular daily use of medication to maintain control.
Your MLA physician will evaluate your asthma by taking a careful history, performing a physical examination as well as reviewing any other information that you bring to the office visit. If not already done pulmonary function tests will be ordered, possibly including what is called a methacholine challenge test. This test helps to confirm your diagnosis of asthma. Asthma management not only consists of appropriate medications but attention to your environment, as well as other potential asthma triggers (e.g. sinusitis, acid reflux, tobacco use).
Use the Asthma Control Test to determine how well controlled your asthma is.