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Derek K. Johnson, MD
Asthma Not a Word To Be Afraid Of Anymore
Fairfax Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Clinic

Asthma Not a Word To Be Afraid Of Anymore

Almost everyone has heard the word asthma because asthma is actually very common. It affects more than 22 million people in the United States, including six million American children. Thanks to new research and medications, asthma could become a thing of the past.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that leads to swellingknown as inflammationand mucous production in the lungs. The muscles that are a normal part of the respiratory system also become tight when asthma is present. These elements combine and make it more difficult for asthma sufferers to breathe and cause coughing, wheezing and even respiratory distress if untreated. Although asthma is more common in families with a history of asthma and allergy, no one really knows why some are more affected than others.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

Most asthma sufferers experience coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness during flare-ups. It is not uncommon, however, for asthma symptoms to go unnoticed for many years. It is human nature to adjust to problems, and many assume that intermittent breathing problems are the norm. Often symptoms occur at night or in the early morning, but they can happen at any time. Coughing can be the only asthma symptom for some.

How is asthma diagnosed?

As with many medical conditions, history is key to the diagnosis of asthma. Board-certified allergists and other medical professionals with special training in the treatment of respiratory diseases can usually spot an asthmatic from quite a distance. Fortunately, the tech revolution hasn't passed this problem by, so allergists and other asthma doctors are also equipped with instruments that can assist in making this diagnosis.

How is asthma treated?

The good news is that symptoms are a thing of the past for many asthma sufferers. Advances in pharmacology have led to the development of many new medications that are not only very safe, but also very effective. Most people with asthma can lead normal, symptom-free lives by using inhaled medications once or twice daily on a regular basis.

The goal for asthma therapy can be summarized as “sleep, learn, play” with no night time symptoms, no missed school or work days, and normal physical activities.

Ask your doctor or an allergist if you have more questions or think someone you know might have asthma.

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