When you think of spring and fall allergies, you probably envision runny noses, itchy eyes, and a scratchy throat. However, many people who suffer from seasonal or other types of allergies also experience another potentially life-threatening condition: Asthma.
Asthma is characterized by chronic lung inflammation and excess mucus production that makes breathing difficult. Approximately 25 million Americans have asthma, and many times the disease first develops in childhood. Though symptoms of asthma can be controlled by medicine, the condition is considered incurable and can flare up throughout a patient’s life. Consequently, receiving prompt and accurate medical care at the first sign of asthma is the best way to prevent serious complications from developing.
What are the Symptoms of Asthma?
Asthma symptoms can vary from mild coughing and wheezing to extreme constriction of the airways that results in a need for emergency medical attention. While wheezing is the most common symptom in most asthma sufferers, some children with asthma may only present with a chronic cough. Other signs of asthma include shortness of breath, chest tightness, and fatigue. Severe episodes, or “attacks,” require medical attention due to drastic reductions in the amount of oxygen circulating in the body as the lungs become more inflamed. During such attacks, asthma sufferers may develop a blue coloring in the face and lips, experience rapid and shallow breathing, and may even pass out if they do not receive medical care quickly. Even seemingly mild symptoms can unexpectedly progress into life-threatening attacks in a short period of time, so individuals who think they might have asthma should consult their healthcare providers for a proper diagnosis.
What Causes Asthma?
As if seasonal allergies aren’t bad enough, inhaling pollen and mold spores can also cause “allergic asthma” – the most prevalent type of asthma – in individuals prone to the illness. Asthma symptoms can also be induced by cigarette smoke, dust, pet dander, chemical fumes, and other particles. Some people – including those who don’t experience other types of asthma – find that exercising causes them to experience asthma symptoms. People with a family history of allergies or asthma are also more likely to develop the condition.
How Do I Control My Asthma?
If you have allergic asthma, avoiding the specific allergen that causes your symptoms may be a key part of your treatment regimen. In addition, many asthma patients are prescribed medications administered orally or by inhaler. These medications may be taken daily to prevent inflammation, or taken at the time of an attack to open the airways rapidly. Asthma sufferers may also be advised to get vaccinated against the flu, pneumonia, and other respiratory illnesses, as they may have greater susceptibility to these ailments or experience more complications.
Asthma is a serious condition, but most individuals can avoid severe symptoms and complications by developing a treatment regimen with a trained medical professional. To learn more about asthma, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology or contact your Crittenton healthcare provider to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.