- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
People with asthma can have flare-ups or asthma attacks, which usually occur when something is bothering their airways such as a viral infection, allergy triggers or exercise. Some patients have no symptoms in between attacks, and some have symptoms all the time if they have poor control of their asthma. Asthma can be serious and even deadly.
Your doctor or nurse will diagnose asthma based on a physical exam, medical and family history, and spirometry or pulmonary function test.
A spirometry test measures how much air you can breathe in and out and how fast you can breathe out. The respiratory therapist or nurse may give you a medicine during the test. This breathing test may be done in your doctor's office or in a lab at the hospital.
Your doctor or nurse may refer you to an asthma specialist or an allergist.
Asthma is treated with different kinds of medicine. Most are medicines called inhalers that patients breathe into their lungs. There are two types of inhalers: quick-relief and controller.
- 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.
People with asthma may use a peak flow meter and asthma diary to track their symptoms and measure asthma control.
People with asthma should avoid triggers such as tobacco smoke and exposure to second hand smoke.
Asthma Action Plan
An asthma action plan, a self-management plan, lists what medicines to take when your asthma symptoms get worse.
Schedule a visit with your doctor or nurse to review and update your plan every year. Ask your doctor or nurse about a flu shot every year.