What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory illness that affects millions of Americans of all ages. Although there is no cure for asthma, it can be controlled through medications and environmental management. Asthma can be life threatening so it's important to treat immediately during an attack. Asthma has two main components: (1) bronchoconstriction: muscles around the airway contract and squeeze the airway smaller and (2) inflammation: swelling of the inner-lining of the airways. Asthma has "triggers" meaning if the person is exposed to this it can stimulate or aggravate the disease and cause an 'exacerbation' or attack of asthma.

What are the symptoms?

Asthma symptoms can include coughing (usually caused by excess mucous production), shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness but not necessarily all. Asthma symptoms may be worse at certain times of the day such as at night time or early morning.

How do you diagnose asthma?

Asthma is diagnosed using the patient's medical history, history of symptoms, family medical history, testing with pulmonary function testing (PFT) or Peak Flow monitoring , blood work and chest x-rays and a physical examination or a combination of some or all of these.

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