Asthma is a chronic and potentially serious lung condition which affects over 20 million people in the US, leading to approximately 500,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths per year. It has a significant impact on lost work and school days, and carries a total annual expense of over $10 billion.
Mechanisms and symptoms
The three essential components of asthma are airway inflammation with mucous production, reversible airway muscle constriction, and recurrent symptoms. Triggers for this process include respiratory infections, allergies, exposure to cold air, tobacco smoke and other irritants, exercise and gastroesophageal reflux. Symptoms may include chronic cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, chest tightness and exercise intolerance.
Besides a careful history, asthma evaluation may involve pulmonary function testing and allergy testing. A chest x-ray may be requested at times to rule out any additional lung pathology.
Avoidance of one’s triggers is one of the most important means of asthma treatment available, and various recommendations may be made depending on your history and the outcome of your allergy testing. Secondly, various inhaled and oral medications may be prescribed for controlling respiratory symptoms that cannot be managed with avoidance measures alone, and we will work with you to determine which medications are right for you. When appropriate, allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be recommended.