Do you have a cough, with shortness of breath and wheezing ? You may suffer from asthma*.
Asthma is one of the many causes of coughing but not all coughing is asthma. It is important to see a professional who can differentiate between symptoms you may be experiencing. Advanced Internal Medicine can help you to diagnose the cause of your cough, shortness of breath, or wheezing.
Symptoms of asthma may include:
- Coughing and wheezing
- General difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Tightness in chest or pain
- Trouble sleeping due to any of the above symptoms
Each individual can have a different experience; with some of these being more or less severe, or more or less frequent. It is important to first pay attention to when these symptoms occur, and then ask yourself these questions:
- Does it happen during exercise? If so, you may have exercise-induced asthma. This may worsen depending on the weather.
- Does it happen in response to allergies? Do certain triggers like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold, etc., cause symptoms to occur? If so, you may have allergy-induced asthma.
- Does it happen when I’m around certain irritants at work? Do substances such as chemicals, plastics, wood dust, etc., pose an issue for you? If so, you may have occupational asthma.
Suffocating Slowly – An Overview of Asthma
To start off, let’s look at a definition of the condition from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH):
Asthma is a chronic (long-term) condition that affects the airways in the lungs. The airways are tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, the airways can become inflamed and narrowed at times…Asthma affects people of all ages and often starts during childhood.https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/asthma
Asthma is a different experience for all who are afflicted with it. For some, it may be under control and easy to deal with. For others, it may cripple their ability to perform daily activities. This is why it is vital to pay attention to what triggers you may have, try to avoid them the best you can and work with a medical professional to control symptoms. You don’t have to suffocate slowly!
Unfortunately, there is no cure for it. However, there is more information than every today due to its commonality and countless studies by reputable organizations across the planet. As of 2018, roughly 25 million Americans deal with asthma, with adults being the most common at 77.7% of cases.
What causes someone to have asthma? This is a difficult question to answer as different human bodies react differently to certain substances, just like allergies. What we do know is that it depends on multiple factors:
- Genetics and family history
- Certain medications such as aspirin
- What allergies you have
- Respiratory infections during infancy or as child
- Environment as a child
- Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy
- Exposure to certain materials in the workplace
- Race or ethnicity
These are only a handful of potential causes that can lead to asthma. It’s important to note that you cannot control many of these – such as genetics, respiratory infections as a child, sex, etc. However, some can be controlled; most notably exposure to certain materials in your workplace (which sometimes takes years to develop).
Certain episodes known as asthma attacks, or exacerbations, can occur at any time in response to a trigger where your symptoms will suddenly worsen. This can be a frightening experience where you may feel like you’re drowning and desperately need air. Episodes can last anywhere from a few minutes to days depending on the severity of your asthma. If the situation is bad enough, you may need to call your doctor or 911 emergency services.
Here is a visual representation of your lungs during an attack. Pay attention to how much the lungs close up and how much oxygen is prevented from flowing:
Image used from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/asthma
Moving Forward – Prevention and Treatment
Although cases of asthma will likely be discovered during your childhood, we can still help you out as an adult! If for some reason you haven’t been diagnosed already, you can be evaluated and have your breathing capacity tested. It is not pleasant to be rushed to the emergency room which is why prevention is the most important thing you can do to stop asthma from controlling your life.
The more information you provide us, the better care we can provide! We want to help out as much as possible. If you need to a medical professional to monitor you while taking medications, help you create a plan of action in case of an attack, or simply listen to your concerns, we’re here for you! There are ways to fight this and be the best you possible.
*This does serve as diagnosis, please be sure to receive professional help and advice regarding your condition. Advanced Internal Medicine (located in Georgia) will be happy to help if you desire.