menutranslate
BreatheAmerica Logo

Share

What is Asthma?

Glenda Cardona, PA-C – BreatheAmerica El Paso Asthma is a chronic (long-standing) lung disease that makes breathing difficult. It affects more than 24 million persons in the United States alone and it causes symptoms such as cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing. It affects children, adolescents and adults. Some people have an intermittent (off and on) or mild form of asthma that can be a nuisance, but is rarely very dangerous. However, there are patients with a more moderate or severe form of asthma that can interfere with routine activities such as walking or exercise and can even be life-threatening.

With asthma, the bronchial tubes (the airways through which oxygen comes into the lungs) become inflamed, or swollen. The inside part of the bronchial tubes can also be obstructed, or plugged, by thick mucus, and with time even become narrowed because of thickened muscles surrounding the tubes. This inflammation also leads to bronchospasms or “twitching” of the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes, which makes the airway hyperactive or hyper- responsive.

Many times, if an asthmatic is exposed to cold air, allergens such as dust, pollen, animal dander, or irritants such as cigarette smoke or cleaning products these bronchospasms can occur. Bronchospasms may also be brought on by exercise. For those patients with moderate to severe asthma, symptoms can occur without any particular trigger. Some forms of asthma are caused by unknown factors.

Although there is currently no cure for asthma, the great majority of patients can have their symptoms very well controlled with specialized medical care and management. It is also a good idea to stay away from any known triggers, for example, cats or dogs if you know that you are an allergic person.

If you don’t know if you have asthma but are experiencing any of the above described symptoms, your doctor can make the diagnosis based on your presentation, medical and family history, physical exam, and often with breathing tests, such as spirometry.

Here at BreatheAmerica, we have a team of asthma specialists, including allergists, pulmonologists, physician assistants and nurse practitioners waiting to help you breathe easier and improve your overall quality of life.