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Asthma is a long-term disease that causes swelling and sensitivity in the airways. When certain substances are inhaled, they can irritate the airways (also called bronchioles) and result in tightening of the muscles around the airways. This makes breathing very difficult.
Asthma affects people of all ages, but the disease most often begins in childhood. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Worsening of symptoms is referred to as an asthma attack, exacerbation, or flare-up.
The cause of asthma is not known, but researchers believe genetic and environmental factors may be at the root of this disease. Risk factors for asthma include the following:
Although there is currently no cure for asthma, most people are able to live a normal, active life with proper care.
If you have asthma, you may experience some or all of these symptoms:
Asthma symptoms can be triggered by allergens, such as dust, pollen and mold; irritants such as cigarette smoke and pollution; certain medicines; sulfites in food and drinks; colds and other viral upper respiratory infections; and exercise and other physical activity.
Physicians use a variety of examinations and tests to diagnose asthma:
Norton Thoracic Institute provides treatment for severe cases of asthma. In our Advanced Lung Disease Clinic, you will receive care from a multidisciplinary team of specialists who focus on helping you:
Asthma is typically treated with medications—some provide long-term control of symptoms, whereas others relieve asthma flare-ups. Your treatment plan may include inhaled corticosteroids, oral medications, injected medications, and medications delivered via nebulizers.
You can reduce the impact of asthma on your life by following these guidelines:
By being an active member of your healthcare team, you will achieve greater success in managing your asthma.
To learn more about asthma services at Norton Thoracic Institute, call 602.406.4000.