About Asthma

Asthma Symptoms

Asthma is a disease of the bronchial tubes. Patients experience spasms or transient narrowing of the airway, swelling of the airway (inflammation) and extra mucus production. Spasm, inflammation and mucus accumulation leads to narrowing of the airway diameter and makes it harder for air to move in and out of the lungs. Wheezing is the noise heard as air is moved against a narrow airway filled with mucus. Some patients may cough, feel short of breath or have chest tightness.

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Asthma Triggers

There are two basic kinds of triggers, allergic and non-allergic. Some patients have allergic asthma and will have a flare up of asthma symptoms if they are exposed to something they are allergic to such as a cat or tree pollen. If they live with the cat they may actually have symptoms frequently and possibly daily.

Some patients have non-allergic asthma and their triggers include infections such as the common cold, changes in weather or barometric pressure, cold air, strong odors or perfumes, tobacco smoke and exercise.

The majority of asthma patients have both allergic and non-allergic triggers. Allergic triggers can be determined in the office by doing allergy skin testing.  We also do breathing tests in the office to determine if you have asthma, and how severe it is. 

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Asthma Medications

Deciding on a therapy for asthma depends on how severe the symptoms are, how often they occur and how often the asthma interferes with one’s life.

Patients with infrequent and mild symptoms can use medications called bronchodilators on an as needed basis. These medications are also called “rescue medications”. For patients with more severe or frequent symptoms, daily “preventative” medications may be needed.
After completing a detailed patient history and physical examination, we will decide if allergy skin testing or breathing tests are needed. A comprehensive treatment program can then be designed. We usually see the patient back in few weeks to make sure they are responding to our treatment program.

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Xolair  (Omalizumab) or anti-IgE therapy, is a novel therapy that is indicated for moderate to severe allergic asthma patients. Usually this treatment is reserved for patients with significant asthma who have failed traditional therapy. Xolair is a genetically engineered drug that is given by injection, either every 2 or 4 weeks depending on several patient factors. We evaluate patients to see if they are candidates for Xolair and offer the therapy at our office. For more information click on Xolair.

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