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Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways. Asthma is made up of two components- inflammation and bronchoconstriction. Inflammation is swelling of the air passages and bronchoconstriction is tightening of the airways. Both components of asthma make it difficult to breathe. Since asthma is chronic it means that the disease will never go away even if you do not feel the symptoms.

Symptoms of Asthma

Symptoms of asthma include: wheezing, coughing, tightening of the chest, and shortness of breath. When these symptom occur it is defined as an asthma attack. These asthma symptoms can occur day or night. Asthma triggers are factors that cause your asthma to flare up or for you to experience an asthma attack.

Asthma Triggers

Perfume, Cigarette Smoke, Dust mites, Pet Dander, Cockroaches, Mold, Pollen from trees, grasses, weeds, Weather (sudden drops in barometric pressure or cold snaps)and Exercise

Asthma Attacks

Asthma attacks vary from person to person, but when they occur you should immediately use the medication prescribed by your doctor and follow your asthma action plan.

Medication for Asthma

There are two types of medication prescribed for asthma. The first type is a quick relief or rescue medication and the second is a controller medicine. Your doctor will decide which medicines are necessary for you. In addition, you and your physician will come up with a specific set of instructions or a "plan" that will help you manage your asthma. Albuterol is the primary rescue medication prescribed by doctors. Some preventative or controller medications include: Advair, Flovent, Singular, Foradil. Again, your physician will decide which medication is appropriate for your asthma.

Types of Asthma

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has classified asthma into 4 categories depending on symptoms. They are: Mild Intermittent, Mild Persistent, Moderate Persistent, and Severe Persistent. The recommended medications and symptoms vary depending on your level of asthma.

Goals of Asthma Therapy

The NIH has also set up clear goals for asthma therapy. They are:

  1. Minimal or no chronic symptoms day or night
  2. Minimal or no exacerbations
  3. No limitations on activities; no school/parent's work missed
  4. Minimal use of short acting inhaled beta agonists
  5. Minimal or no adverse effects from medications

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