Asthma is an inflammatory disease that affects the airways, causing symptoms like chronic cough, wheezing and shortness of breath. When you have asthma, not only do your airways become narrow, but it also produces more mucus, which makes it extremely difficult for you to breathe. Although asthma cannot be cured, its symptoms can still be controlled, which makes preventing asthma much easier. Asthma can change over time.
What Causes Asthma?
Have you ever experienced unusual shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or fits of wheezing? If you have, the cause may be asthma. Asthma, not surprisingly, affects the airways. Swelling and narrowing of the airways, as well as the production of extra mucus, result in constricted airflow. This can cause coughing, wheezing, and make it difficult to breathe. The dangers of untreated asthma are many, but asthma care can help you control your symptoms and reduce your risk for serious lung damage.
Unfortunately, the exact cause of asthma is still unclear. However, we do know that both genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the condition.
Is Preventing Asthma Possible?
Although there have been many substantial advancements in the treatment of asthma in recent years, the illness is not yet curable. Despite some media reports to the contrary, asthma does not go away over time. Asthma is an eminently controllable illness. For most asthma sufferers, control is so effective that it amounts to a virtual cure. But asthma is not curable in the same way as a bacterial pneumonia because it never entirely goes away. Also, there would not be one cure that would ever suffice to cure all of the different types of asthma that people have.
In some cases, asthma symptoms can temporarily disappear. This is usually seen in children. They will simply stop experiencing symptoms of the illness after they reach a certain age. While it is understandable to perceive this change as the child outgrowing asthma, that is not the case. In actuality the child has simply entered into a state of remission, wherein the sufferer’s illness is inactive, but still present. Normally, children whose asthma goes into remission won’t experience any more symptoms until their 30s or 40s, at which point they are triggered by something like a sudden change in temperature, cigarette smoke or exposure to plant pollen. Asthma is never fully cured even when symptoms are not present for long periods of time.
How Can Asthma Be Managed?
If you are diagnosed with asthma, daily medications may be required to manage your asthma. To lead a normal lifestyle, there are four key steps to preventing asthma successfully:
- Educate yourself. Learn about asthma and stay up-to-date on new developments. Ask your physician about new medications or research findings that may relate to your care. Don’t make any changes to your asthma care plan without discussing the with your physician.
- Take prescribed medications. Use your asthma medications as prescribed. Don’t make any changes until you check with your physician. Don’t use over-the-counter medications unless prescribed by your physician.
- Check your lungs daily at home by using a peak flow meter. This device can detect lung changes before experiencing any changes. Visit your physician regularly for further in-office tests.
- Make an asthma management plan with your physician. An asthma management plan helps you understand what to do when specific situations arise. Each time you visit the physician, talk about your plan and make any necessary changes.
Although asthma cannot be cured, there are many ways to help you treat and live with your asthma condition.
Asthma Care by New York’s Dr. Shukla
The best time to deal with an asthma attack is before you have one. That means seeing an asthma doctor if you think you might have asthma but are currently undiagnosed. Frequent coughing and wheezing that lasts for several days may be an early indicator that you have the condition.
Working with an asthma doctor like Dr. Shukla is important to managing your asthma over the long term. Various treatments, including daily medications and the use of rescue inhalers for sudden asthma attacks may be prescribed.
If your asthma symptoms get worse over time, contact your asthma doctor for an appointment. It is not uncommon for the condition to change over time, and various treatments may be needed as your symptoms change.
Dr. Shukla specializes in the treatment of asthma and other pulmonary conditions. If you think you may have asthma, or wish to discuss preventing asthma, contact us or call (212) 661-7077 to schedule an appointment today.