Asthma Evaluation And Treatment- Allergy/Immunology
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Asthma is a reversible condition in which there is inflammation of the airways, which results in attacks of shortness of breath, cough and chest tightness.
Which Physicians to Consult?
Pulmonologists i.e. doctors who have specialized in lung diseases are the best physicians to treat asthma.
Diagnosis of Asthma
Results from breathing tests, physical examination and detailed history are t the three main components for diagnosing asthma.
Detailed family history of asthma and allergies help the pulmonologist to diagnose asthma. A detailed record maintained by the patient about the potential irritants, which trigger his or her asthma symptoms, is also useful.
2) Physical examination
During physical examination, physicians do a thorough auscultation of the airways with the stethoscope to listen for signs of wheezing. Wheezing is a high-pitch whistle sound produced during the exhalation phase while breathing. Wheezing is a major sign of an obstructed airway and asthma.
3) Breathing Tests
These are the tests used to measure ling function and the most important test is spirometry. In the spirometry test, the patient takes deep breaths and forcefully exhales into a hose, which is linked to a machine called as the spirometer. The spirometer displays two major measurements. The first measurement is the forced vital capacity (FVC), which is the amount of air a person can inhale and exhale. The second measurement is forced expiratory volume (FEV-1), which is the maximum amount of air a person can exhale in one second. The FEV1 values are generally reduced in case of asthmatics. The spirometry test also helps the physicians to differentiate between asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Patients are administered a bronchodilator medicine which dilates the airways and the spirometry test is repeated. If there is an improvement in FEV1 values after administering the bronchodilator, the patient is likely to have asthma and not COPD.
Management of asthma
1) Non-Pharmacological treatment
Maintaining a healthy weight – Asthma tends to be worse in obese individuals. Cutting down weight controls asthma symptoms
Regular Exercise- Aerobic exercises help to strengthen the lung
Managing stress can also help to reduce asthma attacks
Your doctor may prescribe certain medications such as an inhaler. Talk to your doctor to learn about various medications available.