Asthma is very important health condition impacting on 22 million people in the United States, including 6.5 million under the age of 18 years. Asthma can be very serious and even deadly but it can be tightly controlled in almost every case with minimal to no symptoms, the ability to exercise vigorously, a normal quality life, and no attacks. Asthma is a chronic condition which means that it is there and often requires treatment even if you are not having any symptoms. Asthma is a disease in which the surfaces of your lung airways are inflamed. The airways are "twitchy" which means that they have a tendency to constrict or narrow with triggers such colds, allergens, irritants such as smoke, and exercise. Many people with asthma have allergies to such things as animals and pollen (e.g. grass, sagebrush). Dust mites and dust mite allergy are rare in southern Idaho because of the dryness.
The symptoms of asthma include wheezing (a high-pitched sound with breathing out), chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath. The symptoms, especially coughing and wheezing, are often made worse by triggers such as colds, exercise, cat and dog allergens, and airway irritants.
In order to diagnose asthma, your allergist will take an extensive history, examine you, and then do a lung function test (this may be repeated after a dose of albuterol, a bronchodilator), and skin tests. Occasional other tests such as a chest x-ray or blood test may be needed. Your board-certified allergist will closely follow the 2007 NIHLBI/NAEPP Guidelines , considered the "gold-standard" for the management of asthma in this country.
Your BVAAC board-certified allergist will then formulate an individualized treatment plan which will include extensive education, attention to trigger factors as well as other conditions such as allergies or sinusitis that may make your condition worse, ongoing medications, and in some cases allergy shots.
There are two types of medications for asthma: quick-relief medications, and long-term control medications. Quick-relief medications, such as albuterol (Proair) relieve symptoms but do not have any effect on the inflammation in your airways long-term. In contrast, long-term control medications need to be used on a regular basis and control your asthma long-term. One of the most effective medications is inhaled corticosteroids, the preferred long-term control medication according to the 2007 NIHLBI/NAEPP Guidelines .
Scientific research has shown that people with asthma who see a board-certified allergist have fewer asthma hospitalizations, ER visits, doctor visits, days absent from work or school, and financial costs.
Your BVAAC board-certified allergist has received extensive training and has many years of experience in the management of asthma. In fact, all three BVAAC board-certified allergists completed their allergy fellowship at a referral center, National Jewish Health, which specializes in treating the most severe asthmatics. If you or a member of your family have difficulties with asthma and need further guidance, call us at 208-378-0080 or click here to make an appointment request online.