Coughing and Shortness of Breath Can Be Signs of Asthma
Asthma can cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. People with asthma have flare-ups or asthma attacks, which usually occur when something is bothering their airways such as a viral infection, cold air, or exercise. Some patients have no symptoms in between attacks, and some have symptoms of asthma all the time. Left untreated, asthma can be serious and even deadly.
Screening for Asthma
Your family doctor or healthcare provider will diagnose asthma based on a physical exam, test results and medical and family history. Your local healthcare provider may choose to make a referral to an asthma specialist or an allergist.
A spirometry test is used to diagnose asthma. Patients breathe into a tube that measures how much air is moving out of the lungs. The test is done at your doctor’s office.
Know the Signs of Asthma
It is important for people to recognize the signs of asthma. Untreated or undertreated asthma leads to many emergency room visits and hospital stays every year. Self-care is important to keeping asthma under control.
Asthma is treated with different kinds of medicine. Most are medicines called inhalers that patients breathe into their lungs. People with asthma get a peak flow meter to use at home. You breathe into the meter to see how much air you can breathe out. The device shows patients when they are in the trouble zone. People with asthma should avoid smoking and exposure to second hand smoke.
Your healthcare provider may help you create an asthma action plan for early treatment of asthma at home. It lists the steps to take to keep asthma from getting worse.
Asthma is a long-term (chronic) disease of the airways.
Airways get swollen narrow and make mucus. Asthma can cause symptoms like coughing, wheezing or feeling short of breath.
Know your medicines and how to use them.
Quick-relief: keep this medicine with you but only use when you’re wheezy or short of breath. Controller: a medicine used every day to control airway swelling. You need a daily controller medicine if you have day symptoms more than 2 times a week, or night symptoms more than 2 times a month. Devices: know how to use your spacer or nebulizer. Ask your doctor, nurse or asthma educator to show you.
Learn what makes your asthma worse. Stay away from things that trigger your symptoms. This may be tobacco smoke, pets, dust, pollen, colds or other things at home or work. If you have symptoms when exercising, use your quick relief medicine before you exercise.
Keep track of your symptoms. Keep a diary of your symptoms. A peak flow meter may be useful.
Have an Asthma Action Plan. Schedule a visit with your doctor or nurse to review and update your plan every year. See your doctor or nurse at least once a year. Ask your doctor or nurse about a flu shot every year.
The Asthma Health Program improves the quality of life for children and adults with asthma by creating and distributing evidence based patient and provider education tools. Education and self-care are the focus of the program. The program works to improve the coordination of asthma care among people with asthma and their families, community asthma educators, care managers, doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists.
The Asthma Health Program is for people with asthma and those who care for them.
The focus is on self-care and knowing how to recognize your asthma triggers and symptoms, using medication correctly, and breathing easier through control of asthma.