That irritating, persist cough! You’ve tried using over–the-counter cough medicine and been put on antibiotics, but the cough just keeps coming back! So maybe it’s not allergies, a cold or an upper respiratory infection at all. Maybe it’s a sign of asthma. Asthma is a medical condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.

Asthma can be well controlled.

Asthma cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be managed and well controlled with the proper diagnosis and a well designed treatment plan. Because asthma often changes in nature over time, it is important to recognize your asthma symptoms and to work with an allergy and asthma specialist to track your signs and symptoms so the needed treatment adjustments can be made. A well designed asthma treatment plan can allow you to continue your normal daily activities and live your life to the fullest. Lots of elite athletes have asthma, and many of them have gone on to have great success – and even win Olympic gold medals!  

How do I recognize if I have asthma?

Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. You may have infrequent symptoms, have regular symptoms but only at certain times (such as when you are exercising), or have symptoms all the time. 

Asthma signs and symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A dry, hacking cough that persists more than a week or two
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Trouble sleeping because of shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in young children and adolescents)
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory infection, such as a cold

Signs your asthma could be worsening can include:

  • Symptoms that are more frequent and bothersome than usual
  • Increasing difficulty breathing (which can be measured with a peak flow meter)
  • An increased need to use a quick-relief “rescue” inhaler more often. Rescue inhalers should not have to be used every day
  • Certain situations can trigger asthma.

    For some people, asthma signs and symptoms can flare up in specific situations such as when you are exercising, working in a certain setting or when you are exposed to airborne allergens. Exercise-induced asthma can be triggered by strenuous physical activities (whether indoor or outdoor) and can be made worse when the air is cold and dry. Occupational asthma can be triggered by workplace irritants such as chemicals, fumes, gases, dust or mold. Allergy-induced asthma is triggered by exposure to particular allergens, such as pet dander, mold spores, or airborne pollens.

    An Allergy and Asthma Specialist can help develop a plan.

    A board-certified allergy and asthma specialist can properly diagnose your asthma, and more importantly, work with you to develop a treatment plan to not only bring your current symptoms under control, but also to prevent future asthma flares from getting out of hand. It’s time to make a call to the allergy and asthma specialist if you have frequent coughing or wheezing that lasts more than a few days, or if you have any of the signs or symptoms of asthma listed above. Treating asthma early can prevent long-term damage and help keep the condition from worsening over time. Once you know you have asthma, meet with your doctor regularly to discuss your symptoms and make any needed treatment adjustments to keep your asthma in check. Good long-term control will help you feel better day to day and can help prevent a life-threatening asthma attack. 

    Get help immediately if your asthma symptoms worsen.

    Contact your doctor immediately if your asthma symptoms worsen, if your medication does not ease your asthma symptoms, or if you need to use your rescue inhaler more often than usual. Do not try to solve the problem by taking more medication without consulting your doctor. Overusing asthma medications can cause side effects and may actually make your asthma worse.

    So remember, early recognition of your asthma symptoms and the development of a good treatment plan are the keys to living life to the fullest…even if you do have asthma. Contact Dr. Hallett to learn more:

    Contact Dr. Hallett

Medical Center: 8285 Fredericksburg Rd San Antonio, TX 78229 | Lincoln Heights: 999 E Basse Rd #118 San Antonio, TX 78209