Diagnosing and Controlling Asthma
Asthma is a chronic inflammation and swelling of airways, through which you breathe air from mouth to lungs. Patients with asthma have their airways always swollen and sensitive to different irritators like allergens or maybe cigarette smoke. Patients with asthma often experience coughing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing, especially at night and in the early morning. If you hear specific whistling sound when you breathe, you might have asthma. However, this is not obligatory. It may be just bronchitis. Unfortunately, the treatment of asthma has not been yet invented, but most people with asthma leave and can control their asthma with help of special inhalers like Pulmicort, Proventil or Advair Discus.
The worst thing about asthma is not the chronic inflammation, it is that sometimes people with asthma experience asthma attacks, - the situation when your asthma symptoms become worse than usual. Some episodes of asthma may be worse than others and the airways become too narrow to breath. In this case it is necessary to call emergency.
If you suspect you may have asthma, you should visit a doctor. The doctor will examine your health, ask you several questions about the character of your coughing, wheezing, periods of colds, chest pain, the family history of asthma and allergies, make special lab tests including x-rays of chest and blood analysis and after such close examination, the diagnosis will be made. Probably your doctor will use a special medical device called spirometer to identify if your airways are working correctly. This device will be used during your future visits to define your condition, too.
Depending on the results of all these tests, your doctor will be able to determine the severity of your problem. Before diagnosis, you will have to pass a physical exam to determine how serious your asthma is. Asthma is classified by severity and periods of repeating the symptoms.
In modern medical science there is a classification of asthma severity. There are four levels of asthma. The least serious one is mild intermittent, then goes mild persistent asthma, moderate persistent asthma, and the most serious case is severe persistent asthma.
If asthma attacks bother you less than two times a week, and you are bothered with them less than 2 times a month, you might have the first stage of asthma – mild intermittent one. If you never have more than one asthma episode a day, but the attacks bother you more often than twice a week, you might have mild persistent asthma. If you are bothered by asthma symptoms more often than twice a month, you might also have mild persistent asthma. If asthma attacks affect your activity and you are bothered by them every day and sometimes (every week or more often) at night, this is moderate persistent asthma. Severe asthma is diagnosed if your physical activity is limited because of asthma symptoms and you experience asthma episodes too often – just every day and often at night.
This classification is necessary because the treatment of asthma differs depending on its severity and level of the disease.
Three main things you should know if you have asthma:
- You should visit your doctor regularly and strictly follow his or her recommendations.
- Carry your inhaler with you. Beware the asthma attack – it can happen with every asthma patient, not depending on the severity of asthma he has.
- Control your asthma every day and notify your doctor about every change you notice. This will help you avoid its worsening.