Asthma is a disease that inflames and obstructs the airway of the lungs making it hard to breathe. It is an extremely common issue, affecting more than 25 million Americans. The prevalence of asthma has continued to increase. The main symptoms of asthma are wheezing, shortness of breath, a feeling of tightness in the chest and coughing. Symptoms vary in severity from person to person. A bout of symptoms is often called an asthma attack or flare-up.  It is important to realize that there is no cure for asthma but there are ways to control the symptoms so that you can go back to leading an active and healthy life.

Asthma can be triggered by exposure to allergens such pollen (trees, grass, weeds), mold, dust mite or animal. This form of asthma, referred to as allergic asthma, is the most common in school age children.  It is also seen in adults.

Alternatively, asthma can also be caused by by non-allergic triggers including colds, air pollution, changes in the weather, exercise and irritants such as tobacco, perfumes, paint fumes, etc.

Diagnosing Asthma

First, Dr. Kocur will take a complete medical history and will ask detailed questions about your asthma symptoms, such as:

– What time of day do symptoms occur?
– Do symptoms occur during/after exercise?
– Are symptoms worse during a certain season?
– Do symptoms occur when exposed to tobacco smoke/cold air/pollen/mold/in association with a chest cold?
– What makes your symptoms better/worse?
– How frequently do you have symptoms?
– How long do they last?
– What has been the impact of your symptoms on your life?
– Do you miss work?
– Are there certain activities that you avoid because of asthma?

After taking down a detailed medical history and performing a physical exam, Dr. Kocur will do a breathing or lung function test which will tell us how well controlled your asthma is or isn’t.  Skin testing also will be done since allergy is a frequent trigger for asthma.

Asthma Treatments

There are 2 main types of medications used for treating asthma – controllers and relievers (also called rescue medications).

Relievers (“Rescue Medications”)

Rescue medications are fast-acting medications that relieve asthma symptoms. The most common rescue medication is albuterol which is inhaled to quickly open the airways and relieve asthma symptoms. For some patients only this medication will be need to manage their asthma symptoms.

Controllers

For some patients with asthma a controller medication may be needed.  Patients that need to use their rescue medications too often or experience frequent symptoms of asthma are typically placed on controller medications.  Controller medications are preventive medications so they need to be used daily.  For most patients who have poorly controlled asthma these medications work very well to allow patients with asthma to return to an active lifestyle.

What To Do Next

No matter the cause of your asthma issues, St. Louis Allergist Dr. Robert Kocur can diagnose the cause and provide a treatment that will improve your symptoms. If you have any questions or would like to become a new patient, schedule a consultation or call our office at 314-569-2015. We will be happy to help you regain the quality of life you’ve lost to asthma.

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