Patients with asthma commonly go to their primary care physician or the emergency room with breathing issues. It’s important to make sure that the cause of the breathing problem is actually asthma and not from another condition. Children or adults with asthma may end up seeing a lung specialist, or pulmonologist, to help control their symptoms. They may also be tested for allergies.
Special pulmonary function tests can be performed to check your lungs and how they respond to inhalers that help open the passages. A chest X-ray may also be ordered to check your lungs, heart, and air passages. Chest X-rays are common, quick, and use low doses of radiation.
Treatment for asthma is designed to decrease inflammation and swelling in the lung passages. Often, patients start with inhalers, which are handheld devices that puff medication into your lungs through your mouth. Different types of inhalers are used, such as ones containing steroids to decrease inflammation, or inhaled medications that work on the muscles that open the airways. Some of these inhalers are used daily, and some are used as “rescue” inhalers for quick relief.
When inhalers do not fully control symptoms, oral pills can be helpful. Pills work to decrease inflammation, fight infection, or help open the passages to the lungs. The use of inhalers and pills depend on how often breathing symptoms occur and how severe they are.
One of the most important parts of treating asthma is avoiding things that make asthma worsen. This includes avoiding pollen, staying out of cold air, and keeping the house clean and free of dust. Paying close attention to what triggers your breathing issues can help identify what makes your asthma worse. Take note of your symptoms and when they occur to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
Finally, it’s important to stay healthy and exercise, because conditions like being overweight and acid reflux can make asthma symptoms worse. Asthma as an adult or in your child can be a changing and challenging condition, and knowing about how to care for it is the best way to treat this condition.