Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs. It is one of the most common long-term diseases among children, but adults can have asthma, too. Asthma causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing at night or early in the morning. If you have asthma, you have it all the time, but you will have asthma attacks only when something bothers your lungs.
If someone in your immediate family has asthma, you are more likely to have it. Being exposed to things in the environment, like mould or dampness, some allergens such as dust mites, and second-hand tobacco smoke have been linked to developing asthma. Air pollution and viral lung infection may also lead to asthma.
It can be hard to tell if someone has asthma, especially in children under age five. Having a doctor examine how well your lungs work and check for allergies can help you find out if you have asthma.
During a check-up, a doctor will ask if you cough a lot, especially at night. He or she will also ask whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or at certain times of the year. The doctor will then ask about chest tightness, wheezing, and colds lasting more than 10 days. He or she will ask whether anyone in your family has or has had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems.
Finally, the doctor will ask questions about your home and whether you have missed school or work, or have trouble doing certain things. The doctor may also do a breathing test, called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working, by testing how much air you can breathe out after taking a very deep breath before and after you use asthma medicine.
Asthma is the most common chronic disorder in children, currently affecting an estimated 6.1 million youngsters under 18 years; of which 3.5 million suffered from an asthma episode.
More than 300,000 adult emergency-room visits were attributed to asthma in 2010. In 2018, asthma accounted for an estimated 14.2 million lost workdays in adults. The annual direct healthcare cost of asthma is approximately $50.1 billion; indirect costs, for example, loss of productivity, add another $5.9 billion, for a total of $56.0 billion.
It is important for someone with asthma to see his or her healthcare provider regularly. A healthcare provider can help someone with asthma identify triggers and work to find the right medicines to control the symptoms.
To keep asthma controlled, someone with asthma should see their healthcare provider once every three to 12 months, even when they are feeling well, and more often when experiencing breathing problems. Take your medicine exactly as your doctor tells you to, and stay away from things that can trigger an attack, so as to control your asthma.
Everyone with asthma does not take the same medicine.You can breathe in some medicines, and take others in the form of a pill. Asthma medicines come in two types, quick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack.
If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, visit your doctor to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they do not help you while you are having an asthma attack.
Asthma medicines can have side effects, but most are mild and soon go away. Ask your doctor about the side effects of your medicines.
Remember, you can control your asthma. With your doctor’s help, make your own asthma action plan. Decide who should have a copy of your plan, and where he or she should keep it. Take your long-term control medicine even when you do not have symptoms.