Asthma: 3 Things to Know

young woman using inhaler


1. What is asthma?

Asthma is a common disorder involving the airways of the lung. Its main features include:

  • Constriction of the airways
  • Continuous inflammation of the airways   

It can affect anyone at any age.

2. Risk Factors   

There are multiple risk factors for asthma, including:

  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental factors, such as exposure to dusts, chemicals, and allergens   

3. Symptoms   

People can lead normal lives with asthma when it is under control, but it can be a life-threatening condition, especially in children. It is important to recognize the common symptoms and seek medical attention immediately. Common symptoms include:           

  • Chest tightness          
  • Shortness of breath with exertion           
  • Wheezing           
  • Cough   

4. Diagnosis & Treatment   

Asthma is usually diagnosed by a pulmonary function test (PFT), in combination with an examination by a physician. It usually is treated with inhaled medications that help open up the airways and reduce inflammation. Some medications are taken every day and some are taken only when symptoms occur. Treatment of asthma also often involves reducing exposure to symptoms "triggers." Avoiding exposure to strong chemicals, perfumes, smoke, etc., is sometimes necessary. Treating underlying allergies with other medications also may be necessary.

Dr. Arvind Ponnambalam is a pulmonologist at SwedishAmerican's Pulmonology Clinic. To schedule an appointment, please call (779) 696-6102