Asthma affects about 25 million people in the United States, seven million of whom are children. To get tested for asthma and learn about treatment options, visit Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois. Pulmonary specialists, Dennis Keller, MD, Madhu Gundavaram, MD, and Amanda Law, CNP offer personalized and effective solutions to manage asthma symptoms and improve your quality of life. To book an appointment, call or schedule a visit online today.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways within the lungs. Normal airways are open and allow easy flow of oxygen into the lungs, however with asthma, inflammation causes swelling in the airways, resulting in less space for oxygen to flow through. This can cause chest discomfort and difficulty breathing, among other symptoms.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
The main characteristic of asthma is wheezing when breathing. This may cause a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe.
Other symptoms include:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing, which is often worse at night
Asthma attacks — when inflammation causes symptoms to flare-up — can be very scary, especially for children. When asthma flares up, it can be difficult to breathe and your symptoms may become more severe or prominent until you receive treatment.
What causes asthma?
The exact cause of asthma is unknown, though current research suggests genetic and environmental factors play a role.
These factors include:
- An inherited tendency to develop allergies, called atopy
- Parents who have asthma
- Certain respiratory infections during childhood
- Contact with some forms of airborne allergens during infancy or early childhood
For those who have family members with asthma, you may notice certain chemicals or environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke or pollen, make your asthma symptoms worse.
How is asthma diagnosed?
If you suspect that you or your child has asthma, the team performs a complete physical exam and pulmonary function tests to determine the cause of your or your child’s symptoms. Pulmonary function tests include spirometry to determine how much air you breathe in and out and bronchoprovocation tests to determine how your lungs respond to certain environmental elements.
The team may also recommend allergy testing, a chest X-ray, or an electrocardiogram (EKG) to rule out other factors that may be causing your symptoms.
How is asthma treated?
When you’re diagnosed with asthma, the team offers a variety of treatment methods depending on the severity of your condition.
Treatment options include:
- Xolair® injections for allergy-induced asthma
- Injectable steroids
While asthma can’t be cured, these treatments can help you manage your symptoms and prevent life-threatening asthma attacks.
To schedule testing or get treatment for asthma, call Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine or book online now.