More than 25 million Americans have asthma, a chronic disease that causes narrowing and inflammation of the airways. When the airways swell, less air is able to get into the lungs. In some people with asthma, swelling of the airways also increases mucus production, making the narrowing worse. Every time the airways become inflamed, asthma symptoms can occur. If you have been diagnosed with this respiratory disease, one of our physicians can help you manage your symptoms and prevent complications.
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Symptoms of Asthma
Some of the most common symptoms of this condition are shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, wheezing, chest pressure, and chest tightness. The course of asthma is a little different for everyone. Some people are able to go for long periods between asthma attacks. Others experience asthma symptoms daily. If you recognize the early signs of this condition, you can prevent attacks from worsening. Early signs include weakness or fatigue while exercising, frequent cough, wheezing, and coughing after exercise.
When the muscles around the airways tighten, it is known as bronchospasm. Asthma attacks are caused by bronchospasm, causing the airways to become inflamed. If this happens, you may experience severe wheezing, chest pain, uncontrollable coughing, rapid breathing, blue lips, or other symptoms of an asthma attack. You must work with a doctor to develop an asthma action plan so you know what to do if a severe attack occurs.
Asthma Action Plans
Developing an asthma action plan will help you keep your asthma under control. This type of plan is usually broken into three sections: the green zone, the yellow zone, and the red zone. If you have no cough, wheeze, shortness of breath, or chest tightness, you are in the green zone. You should take your medications as prescribed and continue with your usual activities.
If you are coughing, wheezing, or experiencing chest tightness or shortness of breath, you are in the yellow zone. People in the yellow zone usually take quick-acting medications and continue their daily asthma medications. The red zone is the most dangerous for someone who has asthma. If you are in this zone, you are very short of breath and your quick-acting medications are not helping. Your action plan might tell you to take another medication or call your doctor if you enter the red zone.
Controlling Asthma Symptoms
There are several things you can do to keep your asthma symptoms under control. One of them is limiting your exposure to certain allergens. If you are allergic to pet dander, keep pets outdoors or avoid getting new pets. Clean your furniture and carpets regularly to reduce the amount of dander in your home. You should also take steps to reduce the number of dust mites in your home. These steps include washing your linens regularly, using a dehumidifier, removing carpets from sleeping areas, and using dust-proof covers on your pillows. Avoid cigarette smoke, strong perfumes, and other irritants. Doing so can reduce the number or severity of the attacks you experience.
Planning for Good Health
Planning ahead is one of the best ways to control your asthma. If you have not seen a doctor in several months, schedule an appointment with one of the physicians at our urgent care center. Our staff members will make you feel welcome and help you take control of your asthma.