Asthma is a disease of the lungs that occurs worldwide and affects more than 20 million people in the United States. It is one of the most common chronic illnesses in childhood. Symptoms include cough, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath caused by airway inflammation and constriction.
While there is no cure, asthma can be controlled with a good understanding of your triggers and the right treatment plan.
Environmental allergens contribute to inflammation and trigger airway constriction in over 60 percent of patients. Other important triggers include viral infections, tobacco smoke exposure, air pollution and exercise.
A comprehensive plan includes environmental review, self-management strategies, understanding the difference between rescue and controller medications, and proper inhaler technique.
Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination are important prevention strategies.
Ask yourself not only how your asthma is today, but how has it been over the last four weeks, three months, six months and one year.
So, what are the goals of asthma control?
• To be able to play and exercise without difficulty.
• To be able to sleep at night without asthma-related sleep disturbance.
• Not to miss days at school or work from asthma.
• Not to need urgent care or emergency room visits for asthma.
How can you know if asthma is under control?
Ask yourself these questions:
• Do daytime symptoms occur more than twice a week?
• Do nighttime symptoms occur more than twice a month?
• Are you using rescue inhaler medication more than twice a week?
• Are you having difficulty with exercise because of asthma?
If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, your asthma may not be controlled.
The Asthma Control Test is a very simple set of questions to assess your or your child's asthma: www.asthmacontrol.com.
You can answer these questions periodically to measure control over the past four weeks.
The goal of asthma should be normal or near normal quality of life. Talk to your doctor if your asthma is not controlled.
Dr. Raj Srinivasan completed fellowship training in Allergy/Immunology at the University of Rochester in New York and treats children and adults with asthma at The Vancouver Clinic at both their 87th Avenue and Salmon Creek locations.