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For almost 65 years, Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center has helped adults and children in the Charlotte area manage and control their asthma to lead healthy, active lives.

Asthma is a long-term respiratory disease that can cause your airways to temporarily inflame and narrow, making it difficult to breathe.  Asthma is becoming increasingly common in the U.S., with over 26 million people living with the condition.  The symptoms of asthma can differ greatly for different people, as well as from episode to episode in the same individual.

Asthma Symptoms

For some, asthma symptoms can be mild and go away on their own or after taking a small amount of asthma medication. For others, symptoms can be more serious and lead to a severe asthma attack, which can be very dangerous and even fatal.  For this reason, it’s extremely important to properly diagnose and treat your asthma symptoms as soon as you suspect you may have the condition.

Some of the symptoms that are linked to asthma include:

  • Rapid breathing or shallow breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing spells (typically early in the morning, at night or with exercise)
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound that occurs when you breathe)
  • Tightness in neck or chest muscles
  • Low energy or tiredness

What Causes Asthma?

The two main categories of asthma are allergic asthma, which is asthma triggered by an allergic reaction, and non-allergic asthma, which is caused by factors unrelated to allergies.  Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma.

Asthma can affect people of any age, but it develops most often during childhood.  If you have a family history of allergies or asthma, you are also more likely to develop the condition.  Many of the asthma patients we treat at Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center are young children.  Our physicians are skilled at working closely with children (many also have Board Certification in Pediatrics) and their caregivers to educate them on their condition and individual treatment plan, as well as what to do if an emergency arises.

Common Asthma Triggers

Asthma triggers are substances that can irritate the sensitive airways of people with asthma and cause symptoms.  A large part of managing asthma is identifying one’s own triggers and avoiding them.

  • Allergens such as pollens, mold spores, pet dander, and dust mites (allergy-induced asthma)
  • Physical activity or exercise (known as exercise-induced asthma)
  • Smoking or smoke exposure
  • Chemical fumes, gases, dust or other workplace irritants (known as occupational asthma)
  • Sinus infections, colds and flu
  • Changes in weather or temperature, humidity, or cold air
  • Strong emotions, anxiety, stress, or extreme laughter
  • Some medications, including beta blockers, aspirin or ibuprofen

Asthma can affect people of any age, but it develops most often during childhood.  If you have a family history of allergies or asthma, you are also more likely to develop the condition.  Many of the asthma patients we treat at Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center are young children.  Our physicians are skilled at working closely with children (many also have Board Certification in Pediatrics) and their caregivers to educate them on their condition and individual treatment plan, as well as what to do if an emergency arises.

Asthma Diagnosis

No matter what type of asthma you have, an allergist is the most qualified professional to diagnose and treat your asthma. The allergists can run a number of tests to confirm an asthma or allergy diagnosis during your visit. These tests are normally separated into two groups: lung function tests and x-rays.

Lung function tests must be administered by a physician. There are two main types of lung function tests: a spirometry test or a methacholine challenge test.  During a spirometry test, the doctor measures the amount and force of air that a patient can exhale from their lungs. If symptoms from the spirometry test are inconclusive, a methacholine challenge test may be useful. In this test, a patient inhales nebulized methacholine or histamine. As a result, the patient may have asthma if their breathing ability decreases by 20 percent or more. Your allergist will be able to recommend the best test for your situation following their initial examination.

A chest x ray may be ordered as well to rule out other causes of respiratory symptoms such as infections or other lung diseases.

If you live in the Carolinas and are curious if you or a loved one have asthma, give us a call. At Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, our physicians have received specialized training in asthma and are Board Certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI).

Asthma Treatment

There is no cure for asthma, but under the right care, the symptoms can be managed with few, if any symptoms. Asthma conditions can change over time, which makes asthma management an on-going process.  At Carolina Asthma and Allergy, we help patients track their signs and symptoms so we can adjust treatment if necessary.

Asthma treatments include:

  • Patient Education & Partnership in Treatment Plans
  • Medication
  • Desensitization

Each asthma patient has unique symptoms and triggers, so it’s important for us to run several tests before implementing an individualized treatment plan.  With today’s advanced diagnostics tools, knowledge and treatments, asthma does not have to be something that keeps you or your child on the sidelines.  At Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, we partner with our patients, to educate them on their treatment plan and create an ongoing process for managing and controlling their asthma, so it has the least possible impact on their life.

Asthma Prevention

For individuals who suffer from asthma, the best way to prevent a flare up is to follow the asthma management plan they built with their allergist. There are four parts to your asthma management plan as defined by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA):

  1. Understanding and avoiding your asthma triggers
  2. Taking medication as prescribed by your allergist
  3. Tracking your asthma
  4. Knowing what to do if your asthma symptoms get worse

Consult a Carolina Asthma and Allergy professional if you have any questions about how to control your asthma symptoms.

Living Life with Asthma

While it may not seem like it right now, living a fulfilling life with asthma is possible. By consulting with a licensed allergist, you can create a management plan that is directly catered to your needs and lifestyle. The most important, yet sometimes most difficult part, is sticking to the custom asthma management plan. Once you develop guidelines to control your asthma symptoms with your doctor, your chances of suffering form asthma attacks, asthma-related illnesses and trips to the emergency department are dramatically decreased.

Here are only a couple of the activities you can start enjoying when your asthma symptoms are kept in check:

  • Join a sports team or league
  • Fully engage in exercise
  • Sleep throughout the night
  • Consistently attend classes or work
  • Breathe more easily

Contact our allergists today to start living your best life with asthma today.

 

 

Asthma FAQs

What are the triggers or common causes of asthma?

Allergies: Food, pollen, animals, feathers, insect body parts and feces, sulfites (food preservative), dust. Dust: Cloth, upholstered furniture, bedding, carpets, draperies, brooms, dirty air filters on furnaces and air conditioners, pets. Emotions: Fear, anger, frustration, laughing too hard, crying, coughing, stress. Exercise: Wheezing may begin after overexertion, exercising in cold weather. Household Products: Vapors from cleaning supplies, paints, solvents, sprays from furniture polish, starch, cleaners, room deodorizers. Infections: Colds, other viruses: Bronchitis, Tonsillitis, Sinusitis. Work Environment: Dust, vapors, or fumes from wood products, flour, cereals, coffee, tea, grains, metals, soldering fumes, welding fumes, cotton, flax, hemp, mold. Air Pollution:Changes in the weather, traffic jams, smog, parking jams, smoke filled rooms. Smoke: From cigarettes, cigars, pipes, second hand smoke. Weather: Exercising in cold air, changes in the seasons.

Can certain foods trigger asthma?

Foods triggering asthma is unusual. Although food allergies may trigger asthma in a small number of people, not all individuals with food allergies have asthma. Substantial scientific investigation has found that the following foods and food additives can trigger asthma. Diagnosed foods that trigger asthma: milk eggs peanuts tree nuts soy wheat fish shellfish Sulfites and sulfiting agents: sulfur diooxide, sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, and sodium sulfite. Other food ingredients have been previously suspected to trigger asthma. However, scientific evaluation has not been able to conclusively link these food components to asthma. They include tartrazine (and other food dyes or colorings); benzoates (food and drug preservative); BHA and BHT (food preservatives); Monosodium glutamate (MSG, flavor enhancer); aspartame (NutraSweet®, intense sweetener); and nitrate and nitrite (food preservatives).

How is asthma managed?

You can take an active role in controlling your asthma symptoms by working with your doctor, taking your medication regularly, and making the lifestyle changes that can reduce your risks. Follow these guidelines for more successful asthma management: Eat right, exercise, and get enough rest. Know your personal asthma triggers and learn how to avoid them. Watch for warning signs of asthma episodes and take steps promptly. Stay calm when symptoms occur, and don’t hesitate to seek help If your medication does not seem to relieve your symptoms, seek medical care immediately. Make sure that your family, friends, and coworkers are aware that you have asthma, and show them how they can assist you if urgent help is needed. Be sure to keep emergency information and telephone numbers handy.

How is asthma diagnosed?

The usual starting point is a visit to your doctor for a physical exam. This appointment will probably include: A review of your family’s health history A discussion of your own personal medical history A physical exam, during which your doctor will listen to your breathing. Laboratory tests that measure lung function. Tests for allergies. Once you and your doctor know what kind of asthma you have, and what your asthma triggers are, you can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs. This plan may include medication, lifestyle changes, and avoidance of triggers. There are two kinds of medicines that are prescribed to treat asthma: Maintenance medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs help to prevent and reduce inflammation and swelling of the airways. They are an important part of long-term management of asthma symptoms. Long-acting bronchodilators are also available for the long-term control of daytime symptoms, nocturnal asthma, and exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB). Quick-relief, or “rescue” medications such as short-acting bronchodilators help provide rapid relief to relax muscles around the airways.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease characterized by inflammation of the airways, and increased responsiveness to various stimuli commonly called asthma triggers. Asthma episodes involve progressively worsening shortness of breath, cough, wheezing or chest tightness, or some combination of these symptoms. The severity of asthma may range from mild to life-threatening.