Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma*. Many of the symptoms of allergic and non-allergic asthma are the same. However, allergic asthma is triggered by inhaling allergens. An allergen is a typically harmless substance such as: dust mites, pet dander, pollen or mold. If you are allergic to a substance, this allergen triggers a response starting in the immune system. Through a complex reaction, these allergens then cause the passages in the airways of the lungs to become inflamed and swollen. This results in coughing, wheezing and other asthma symptoms.
Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways (tubes) that carry air in and out of the lungs. These airways are inflamed in people with asthma. The inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and the tubes often react to allergens or irritations. There is no cure for asthma. But with the proper diagnosis, medication and an asthma management plan, symptoms can be controlled. Asthma symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing–especially early in the morning or at night. In a severe asthma attack, the airways close so much that other vital organs in the body do not get enough oxygen.
There are three basic types of inhaler devices that deliver medications:
The most common is the Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI). This uses a chemical propellant to push the medication out of the inhaler.
Nebulizers deliver fine liquid mists of medication through a tube or a “mask” that fits over the nose and mouth, using air or oxygen under pressure. Nebulizers are frequently used to treat people with asthma who cannot use an inhaler, including infants, young children and very ill people of all ages.
Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs) deliver medication without using chemical propellants, but they require a strong and fast inhalation. With inhaled medications, the medicine is delivered directly to your bronchial tubes, helping to open your airways. Also, these medicines have fewer side effects compared to others that are taken by mouth or by injection.
The allergy/immunology specialist will work with you to make the correct diagnosis and after that to find the right medic action and to answer any concern about side effects. As well to develop a personalized asthma action plan.
Most people will need two kinds of medications:
- Quick relief: A) Short acting beta agonists (Albuterol) and B) anticholinergics (phlegm). Both of them open your windpipes, allowing more air in and out. Taken on as needed basis.
- Long term controller. Help to control the inflammation that causes the difficulty for breathing. These are to be taken on daily basis.
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi (lung airways), resulting in persistent cough that produces considerate quantities of sputum (phlegm). Bronchitis is more common in smokers and in areas with high atmospheric pollution.
Bronchodilators (also known as beta2-agonists* ) are non-steroid medications that help open up airways by relaxing small muscles which are tight due to asthma. Some bronchodilators are rapid-acting, and some are long-acting.
Rapid-acting bronchodilators are used as “rescue” or quick–relief medications to immediately relieve asthma symptoms. Quick relief bronchodilators are also sometimes prescribed to be taken before exercise to control exercise-induced broncho constriction. This type of medication is meant to be used to treat sudden asthma symptoms. If it is necessary to use a rescue medication on a daily basis, notify your doctor as it could mean that your asthma condition is not under control.
Long-acting bronchodilators are long-term medications which are used to manage and control asthma symptoms. They are typically prescribed to be taken twice daily—even when symptoms are not present.
Cough is usually described as chronic if it is present for eight weeks or more. The most common causes of chronic cough are postnasal drainage, asthma and gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), or heartburn. Any or all of these may be the cause of chronic cough, in addition to a number of other less common causes. An allergist can help diagnose the cause(s) of your chronic cough.
Allergists have particular expertise in allergic rhinitis (or hay fever) and sinus infections, which may contribute to postnasal drainage, a common cause of chronic cough. Allergists are also experts at diagnosing and treating asthma, which may be present in 25% of patients with chronic cough. Cough from asthma may be associated with wheeze, shortness of breath or chest tightness and may be worsened by colds, exercise, smoke exposure and laughter, among other things. When to see an allergist*:
* If you have a cough that lasts more than eight weeks.
* If your cough is associated with symptoms of asthma.
* If your cough is associated with nasal symptoms or tobacco use.
* If your cough is severe and affecting your quality of life.
Dry Powder Inhalers* (known as DPIs) deliver medication without using chemical propellants, but they require a strong and fast inhalation. With inhaled medications, the medicine is delivered directly to your bronchial tubes, helping to open your airways. Also, these medicines have fewer side effects compared to others that are taken by mouth or by injection. * see Asthma Inhalers.
Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (also known as exercise-induced asthma) is a narrowing of the airways causing difficulty moving air out of the lungs during exercise. If you have chronic asthma, your symptoms may be worse when you exercise. Yet some people who don’t have asthma experience symptoms only when they exercise.
• Shortness of breath
• Tight chest
These symptoms are often worse in cold, dry air. Warm and humid air may lessen the symptoms. Exercise is a very important aspect of good health, so your allergist may prescribe taking medication prior to exercising to control symptoms.