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. Could your cough be 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 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!
So, could your cough be 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:
Signs your asthma could be worsening can include:
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.
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.
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.