Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that makes breathing difficult. Air passages become inflamed, and the airways tighten. This results in asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest tightness.
Asthma is not one disease and can have many causes. One of the most common types of asthma is “allergic asthma”, found in people who have environmental allergies which are not treated. Substances such as histamine and other immunologic mediators are released in the body when an allergic reaction occurs. Over time, the repeated release of these compounds can cause the changes associated with asthma. This is especially noted in children, and this is why it is so important that a child’s allergies be controlled.
Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA) is another common form. Rapid breathing during exercise causes cooling and drying of the airways. In some people, this triggers the classic asthma symptoms. Let us know if your wheezing or chest tightness becomes worse with, or after, physical activity or if these symptoms appear only with exercise.
Medications are used to treat the symptoms of asthma. Steroids can reduce inflammation. Steroids can be inhaled or taken orally. Bronchodilators can be long-acting and used as controller medicines, or they can be short-acting, and used as rescue inhalers.
Ideally, our goal is for patients to use rescue bronchodilators rarely or, even better, never. We will work with you to get good control of your asthma by identifying and eliminating substances that trigger attacks, along with the use of long-acting asthma medications. If "rescue" medications are used, relief should begin fairly rapidly (in seconds to minutes). If there is no change in symptoms the dose may be repeated.
Treating the underlying cause of allergic asthma can be accomplished in two ways: Xolair and Immunotherapy
Xolair is an injected medication that binds to IgE and thus eliminates the allergic reaction and the lung involvement. It is used for patients whose asthma is most difficult to control, for whom multiple medications, including steroids, are not effective.
Immunotherapy refers to “allergy shots” or sublingual (under-the-tongue) therapy. This sort of therapy works by building up exposure to specific allergens and, thus, suppressing the production of IgE directed at these allergens. It helps to reduce the release of histamine and other mediators from cells in the body so that symptoms lessen or no longer appear.
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