Shortness of breath? Wheezing? You may have asthma, which is a chronic disease of the airways in the lungs that can only be diagnosed and properly managed by a doctor. A person who suffers from asthma has very sensitive air passages (bronchi) that become inflamed and narrowed when breathing in certain “irritants” or “allergens.” This narrowing of the airways triggers asthma symptoms including wheezing, tightness of the chest, or shortness of breath – which in moderate to severe cases can lead to difficulty breathing, often called an asthma attack.
An asthma trigger is a thing, activity, or condition that can cause your symptoms to get worse. There are several types of asthma triggers and your triggers can be different from other people who have asthma. Some of the most common types of asthma triggers include outdoor air pollution, pollen, pet dander, dust mites, respiratory infections, physical activity, strong chemical smells and odors, and smoke from burning tobacco or wood. Even extremely cold or hot weather can worsen asthma symptoms in some people. If you have been diagnosed with asthma, it is important to keep track of your triggers. If you are not sure what your asthma triggers are, allergy testing may be able to help. Speak with your doctor or other healthcare professional to help you recognize what makes your asthma symptoms worse and how you can best avoid your triggers.
If you have not yet been diagnosed with asthma but you have symptoms, immediately consult a doctor for a complete assessment, diagnosis, and a long-term treatment and management plan. If you suspect your child may have asthma, speak with your pediatrician right away.