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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.