St. Louis Asthma Help
If you have been diagnosed with asthma or suffer from shortness of breath, wheezing, or other breathing problems, a St. Louis asthma doctor may be able to give you relief. Many people live with discomfort for years, unaware there may be asthma treatment in St. Louis available for relief. A single visit to a St. Louis asthma doctor may give you immediate relief, or you may require ongoing asthma treatment in St. Louis.
A St. Louis Asthma Doctor Explains Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways of your lungs. Your airways are the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. When you have asthma, your airways become swollen.
This swelling (inflammation) causes the airways to make thick, sticky secretions called mucus. Asthma also causes the muscles in and around your airways to get very tight or constrict. This swelling, mucus, and tight muscles can make your airways narrower than normal and it becomes very hard for you to get air into and out of your lungs.
How do I know if I have asthma?
St. Louis ranks as one of the top cities for asthma in the country. The most common symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and cough. You may have days when you have every symptom and other days you may have no symptoms. When you do have asthma symptoms, you may feel like you are breathing through a straw. You may also hear wheezing (a whistling or squeaking sound) as air tries to move through your narrowed airways. You may also cough, most often at night or early in the morning. Chest pain, chest pressure, or a feeling of tightness in your chest can be other symptoms of asthma. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is likely our St. Louis asthma clinic can provide you with asthma help.
An “asthma attack” describes very severe symptoms. During an asthma attack, you may breathe so fast that your may have a hard time talking. Coughing, wheezing and chest tightness can cause you feel anxious or scare. This may make you feel even more short of breath. Although rare, low oxygen levels in your blood may cause your fingertips and lips to turn blue or gray. If you experience symptoms of an asthma attack, immediately seek emergency care and follow up with a visit to a St. Louis asthma clinic afterwards for long term asthma help.
What causes asthma?
Asthma can be inherited or passed down to you from your parents through their genes, or you may have no history of asthma in your family. If you have asthma, your airways are more sensitive than normal. Your airways can get irritated and tighten very easily by a variety of things called triggers. Examples of triggers are:
Allergies: If you have allergies, you may also be more likely to have asthma. This type of asthma often begins in children but can happen in adults as well. Common allergens in St. Louis are pollen from weeds, trees, and grass; mold; cockroach droppings; dander from cats or dogs; and dust mites. These can cause sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose. If the lungs are irritated enough, the allergens can cause an asthma attack.
Respiratory infections: Frequent lung or sinus infections can also cause asthma.
Infections can trigger longer episodes of wheezing or shortness of breath than those from allergies. In fact, respiratory viruses are the most common cause of asthma attacks our allergy doctors in St. Louis see keeping our patients home from work or school.
Irritants that can also cause asthma in St. Louis are:
- Exhaust fumes from cars, buses, trucks etc.
- Chemicals like garden sprays
- Molds and dust
- Strong odors from paint, perfume, cologne, hair spray, deodorant, and
- Tobacco smoke from cigarettes, pipes, or cigars
- Temperature or weather changes
- Stress or exercise
- Medications, including aspirin and beta-blockers (heart or blood pressure medicine)
- Sulfites in foods such as dried fruits, wine, and beer
Asthma Diagnosis in St. Louis
Asthma cannot be diagnosed without a breathing test from at a St. Louis asthma clinic. So, if you think you may have asthma, contact a St. Louis asthma doctor about all of your symptoms. If your practitioner at a St. Louis asthma clinic thinks your symptoms may be from asthma, they will ask you to have a breathing test called a pulmonary function test or spirometry test.
Because there are many types of asthma (or conditions that appear to be asthma),your St. Louis asthma doctor may want you to have additional tests. Blood tests for allergies or for detecting problems with the immune system may also be ordered for patients seeking asthma treatment in St. Louis.
If you start an asthma treatment at the advice of your physician and your asthma is not getting better, you might benefit from seeing an asthma specialist in St. Louis. Sometimes, other diseases can act like asthma. An asthma specialist in St. Louis may do more testing to find the specific cause of your asthma or things that may be making it worse. Testing may also be done to test if your symptoms are caused by another disease such as vocal cord dysfunction.
St. Louis Asthma Treatment
Once you are diagnosed with asthma, it is very important that you work closely with your asthma clinc to control your asthma. You and your asthma doctor will write an Action Plan that you will follow to treat your symptoms and improve your breathing. Your Action Plan will include when to take your medications, what you can do in your daily life to avoid common asthma triggers in St. Louis, and how to monitor your breathing.
Our St. Louis asthma doctors may prescribe medications that keep your airways open and reduce swelling, so air can move in and out of your lungs more easily. You will be given an inhaler, but you may also be given a pill as well as an inhaler. The most important thing about controlling your asthma is that you must take the medicine exactly as instructed by your asthma clinic in St. Louis. When you use the asthma treatment medication correctly, you should be able to prevent your symptoms.
Short-acting (relief or rescue) bronchodilators, such as albuterol or levalbuterol, relax the muscles around your airways.
Long-acting medicines (controllers) include inhaled corticosteroids (e.g. beclomethasone, budesonide, ciclesonide, flunisolide, fluticasone, mometasone) or inhaled corticosteroids in combination with long-acting bronchodilators (e.g. formoterol or salmeterol). These medications must be taken on a regular basis and are designed to keep your airways open over time.
Inhaled corticosteroids decrease the swelling in your airways, so that they are less likely to be irritated by triggers. Long acting bronchodilators are never used alone as a controller in asthma; inhaled bronchodilators are to be taken at the same time as corticosteroids, often both are in the same inhaler. Pills, including leukotriene modifying drugs (Montelukast, zafirlukast, zileuton) and theophylline, may also be prescribed by your St. Louis asthma clinic. These drugs are not usually as effective as corticosteroids and long-acting bronchodilators.
Asthma Help in St. Louis
Lifestyle management begins with learning what specific “triggers” may be causing your asthma symptoms in St. Louis. Keep a journal (or diary) to track your day-to-day activities along with any symptoms that you may be having during the day or at night. Once you know what may be causing your asthma, you can then try to say away from those triggers–one of the best forms of asthma help in St. Louis.
Peak flow monitoring is often recommended to patients seeking asthma treatment in St. Louis. By blowing into a peak flow meter each day, you can see how well you are breathing. Sometimes your peak flow reading can make you aware that your asthma is worsening before you have symptoms. When your peak flow reading is high, you should generally be breathing well. When your lungs are tight, your peak flow reading will be lower. At these times, you may be asked by your asthma doctor in St. Louis to increase your medications, as outlined in your Action Plan. The goal of peak flow monitoring is to help guide you to prevent an asthma attack.
Asthma Clinic in St. Louis: Taking Control of Asthma
Medications: Take your asthma medication exactly as St. Louis asthma doctor tells you. Work with your asthma clinic to find a treatment plan that controls your asthma. Carry your relief/rescue inhaler with you at all times and follow the directions on your asthma treatment Action Plan for when to use it.
Regular visits to your St. Louis asthma clinic: Keep your regularly scheduled visits with your asthma doctor in St. Louis so that your asthma can be monitored and treated before it gets out of control. Be sure to know how to contact your asthma clinic and know how to get asthma help in case of an emergency. This information will be on your Action Plan.
Stay healthy: Eat nutritious foods and get regular exercise. Avoid people who smoke and those that may have an infection, especially during cold and flu season in St. Louis.
Prevent the flu and pneumonia: Get a yearly flu shot (vaccine) and a vaccine for pneumonia, as recommended by your physician or St. Louis asthma doctor.
Cope with stress: Learn new ways to cope with stress. Coping with stress can help prevent and provide asthma relief in St. Louis.
By taking an active role in the management of your asthma by partnering with your asthma doctor in St. Louis, you can breathe easier and live a healthier life.
Asthma Clinic in St Louis
Asthma may worsen or improve throughout life, as may your need for asthma treatment in St. Louis. One of our St. Louis asthma doctors will assess your needs and recommend appropriate treatment. To obtain a diagnosis or get asthma help, contact our St. Louis asthma clinic today. Accepting a range of insurance policies, our clinic houses some of the best asthma doctors in St. Louis.
More information at:
- American Thoracic Society http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma
- American Lung Association (ALA) http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America www.aafa.org