Asthma is a chronic disease that affects more than 25 million Americans of all ages. The disease causes a narrowing and inflammation of your airways and can be life-threatening. When the airways swell, less air is able to get into your lungs. Swelling of the airways can also increase mucus production, making it even harder to breathe. Every time the airways become inflamed, an asthma “attack” can occur. Attacks or symptoms of asthma become particularly exaggerated when you contract a respiratory ailment like a cold or the flu. If you have been diagnosed with asthma, our primary care doctor in Raleigh can help you manage your symptoms and prevent complications.
When an asthma attack occurs an array of symptoms are present. These symptoms tend to flare-up more regularly during allergy season, exposure to smoke, pollution, cold air, and/or when the weather changes.
Common symptoms of asthma include:
- shortness of breath
- chest tightness
- trouble sleeping due to wheezing or coughing
It’s important to note when you experience asthmatic symptoms or attacks most often. This information can help your primary care doctor in Raleigh create a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle.
Through concierge medicine in Raleigh your primary care doctor will take a detailed medical history and perform breathing tests to see how well your lungs are functioning. The most common test is spirometry. When you do a spirometry test you will be asked to blow into a sensor that can calculate the amount of air you inhale and the speed at which you inhale and exhale. This helps your doctor determine the severity of your asthma and can measure how well your current treatment is working or develop a new or more effective treatment plan.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma. However, once you have been diagnosed, a proactive treatment and management plan should be able to keep your symptoms under control. Most plans include prescription medications and avoidance of asthmatic triggers.
There are many treatment options for patients who have been diagnosed with asthma.
- Controller medications are taken daily and usually include an inhaler. The inhaler will contain a corticosteroid to reduce the inflammation in the bronchial tubes in the lungs and to keep flare-ups from happening. These are not the same class of steroids that people use illegally.
- Combination inhalers are used in more severe asthma cases. These contain a corticosteroid and a long-acting-beta-antagonist (LABA). LABAs relax the muscle lining between the airways, allowing the airways to stay open.
- Anticholinergics help open the airways and are inhaled for maintenance therapy.
- Leukotriene modifiers are long-term asthma control medications. They are taken orally and reduce the swelling in the airways and relax the muscles between the airways. They are not as effective as inhaled corticosteroids.
- Short-acting beta-agonists (SABA) offer quick relief of asthma symptoms. These are inhaled bronchodilators and can provide relief during acute flare-ups. They do not take the place of controller medications. If you find yourself relying on your SABA more than twice a week, your asthma is not being controlled.
- Oral and intravenous corticosteroids may be needed during an acute asthma flare-up or for severe symptoms.
Asthma Action Plans
Developing an asthma action plan with your primary care physician in Raleigh will help keep your asthma under control. This type of plan is usually broken into three sections: the green zone, the yellow zone, and the red zone.
- Green zone – No coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest tightness. You should take your medications as prescribed and continue with your usual activities.
- Yellow zone – Coughing, wheezing, or experiencing chest tightness or shortness of breath. Patients in the yellow zone usually take quick-acting medications and continue their daily asthma medications.
- Red zone – Shortness of breath often and quick-acting medications are not helping. This may include adding to or changing your current medication. If you reading this and believe you are in the red zone, call your primary care doctor today.
Let’s Manage Your Asthma Together
You can take an active part in managing your asthmatic symptoms by making a few lifestyle changes and tracking when your asthmatic symptoms occur most often. Some of the most effective changes you can make include:
- Limiting exposure to allergens like pet dander, pollen, and mold.
- Clean soft surfaces (upholstered furniture, carpet, and drapes) in your home.
- Reduce dust mites by washing linens frequently, using a dehumidifier, and using solid surface flooring (such as tile, vinyl, or hardwood).
- Avoid cigarette smoke, strong perfumes, chemical cleaning supplies, and other irritants.
If suspect that you may have asthma or have you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, our direct primary care doctor in Raleigh can help you control and manage your symptoms. We are committed to keeping watch over your health and offer continuity of care in the event that you need to see an allergist.