What is it?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by three airway problems —  inflammation, obstruction, and hyper-responsiveness. It most often affects people aged 5 to 17, or over the age of 65, those who also suffer from allergies, and those who live in urban areas.



Asthma symptoms and their severity will vary from patient to patient, but may include a combination of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing, or pain when breathing
  • Wheezing or coughing during physical activity
  • A persistent, chronic night-time cough


AsthmaBecause the symptoms of asthma often mimic other ailments, such as emphysema or bronchitis, it is important to consult your physician for a diagnosis. In addition to listening carefully to your symptoms, and asking questions, your physician will likely perform imaging and/or lab tests to make a diagnosis. These tests may include a combination of the following, and may be repeated to gauge the effectiveness of various treatments:

  • Spirometry: the patient breathes into a spirometer, which measures how much and how well the patient’s lung receive and hold air, and to detect any airway restriction or obstruction.
  • Peak Flow Monitoring: this test measures how quickly the patient can exhale, or breathe air out of the lungs.
  • Blood test:  a vial of the patient’s blood is drawn and analyzed to check levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide
  • Chest X-ray

Again, your physician may want to perform these tests once an asthma diagnosis has been made, and a treatment plan started, to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.


Today, there is no cure for asthma, though there are several options for effective treatment to relieve and manage asthma symptoms.

Because asthma is a chronic disease, it is important that patients follow their individual treatment plan, even when they are not experiencing symptoms. Components of a successful treatment plan will include:

  • Identifying and avoiding asthma episode triggers
  • Medication therapy to alleviate or relieve asthma symptoms
  • Patient self-monitoring and education, so the patient can identify when their symptoms are worsening
  • Physician testing and monitoring to track the progress and effectiveness of the asthma treatment plan

It may be necessary to alter the components of a treatment plan several times before an effective, successful plan is found.

Helpful Hints

  • If there is a change in your symptoms, or in the frequency or severity of your symptoms, please let your physician know right away.
  • If you’re unclear about a test, diagnosis, or any part of your treatment plan, please ask your physician. The more you know, the more successful your treatment plan will be!