5 Questions to Ask Your Asthma Specialist
Asthma affects many people and determining the causes is the first step to reduce the risk for future attacks. At Piniella Asthma + Allergy, we offer lung function tests and treatments for asthma patients. Call us for more information or schedule an appointment online! We have 2 locations to serve you in Coral Gables FL and Palmetto Bay FL.
What are the causes of asthma?
There is no clear answer on what causes asthma or why it only affects some people and not others. Most likely it is caused by genetic factors and environmental factors. While there is no clarity on what causes someone to suffer from asthma, the triggers for an asthma attack or asthma symptoms are fairly well known. These triggers will vary from one person to the next, as will the severity of their symptoms when they have come into contact with the triggers. Asthma symptoms can be triggered by physical activity, respiratory infections, cold air, air pollutants and irritants, certain medications, airborne allergens, stress and strong emotions, gastroesophageal reflux disease and preservatives and sulfites added to some foods and drinks. Your chances of developing asthma appear to be increased by the following factors: a parent or sibling having asthma, suffering from an allergic condition, being overweight, smoking, second-hand smoke exposure, exposure to air pollutants such as exhaust fumes and occupational triggers found in chemicals used for manufacturing, hairdressing and farming.
Are there things I can change in my life to reduce my risk of an asthma attack?
Determining the causes of your asthma attacks is the first step to changing any facets of your life to reduce the risk of future asthma attacks. Working with your doctor to figure out what you were doing prior to having an attack will help pinpoint the cause. From there you and your doctor or asthma specialist can talk through options to help control it or avoid your triggers, such as avoiding chemicals that aggravate it, reduce your exposure to air pollutants, lose weight and maintain good hygiene to avoid catching colds or flus. Asthma attacks are treatable with a rescue inhaler, which your doctor can prescribe to you for emergency use. You and your doctor should review your asthma treatment plan on a regular basis to ensure your asthma is staying under control. If you are seeing an increase in the frequency of your asthma attacks, the symptoms are getting worse, the inhaler isn’t helping as much as it used to or you are on new medications, your doctor may need to change up your treatment plan.
What kinds of tests will I need to monitor my asthma?
Asthma sufferers can have lung function tests performed to see how well the lungs are working. These tests can also be used to know how well your current lung treatment is working or in an asthma emergency to determine the severity of the attack. There are 4 different types of lung tests – peak flow, spirometry, nitric oxide measurement and pulse oximetry. A peak flow test is used to measure how quickly you are able to breathe out. It can be used during a scheduled doctor’s visit, during an asthma attack as part of your treatment or to monitor lung function at home. The test involves blowing a single breath as hard and fast as you can into a mouthpiece. Spirometry can measure your lung capacity as well as the rate of your inhale and exhale. For this test, you take deep breaths, then exhale as hard as you can into the hose connected to the spirometer. A nitric oxide measurement is used to measure how much nitric oxide gas is present in your breath when you exhale. High levels of nitric oxide are an indication of an inflammation in your bronchial tubes. The amount of oxygen in your blood is measured through a pulse oximetry test. It takes a matter of seconds and is measured through your fingernail.
What kind of inhalers do I need?
An asthma inhaler is a small portable device that can be used to provide you with a dose of medication right into your lungs. There are a variety of kinds available to help you control your asthma symptoms and can be used to treat or prevent asthma attacks. You may need to try a few different types before finding the one that works best for you. Your doctor can help you with the correct use of an inhaler to ensure the medication is getting into your lungs as intended. Metered dose inhalers are the most commonly used and easily recognized. They are made of a plastic boot-shaped mouthpiece that fits easily into the palm of your hand. The medication comes in a pressurized cannister that sits upside down in the mouthpiece, with the medication being released by pushing the cannister down into the mouthpiece. The asthma sufferer then breathes the medication in as they push down on the cannister. Metered dose inhalers contain a certain number of doses per cannister, so users have to keep track of how many doses they have used, but can do so through an app, a built-in counter on the inhaler or another method to ensure that you don’t run out of doses when you really need it. There are also dry powder inhalers that release the medication when you breathe in a fast, deep breath and a soft mist inhaler that release a low-velocity aerosol mist. There are also face mask options available for small children and infants, or anyone else who struggles with a conventional inhaler.
How do I use an asthma inhaler?
Your doctor or health care provider will give you training on the proper use of your inhaler to ensure the medication is getting to your lungs. They can work with you on the best inhaler for you, providing you with the different options available and finding the one that is best suited for your needs. When using an inhaler, you will need to breath the medication in through your mouth to allow it to work its way to your lungs.
If you want to know more about our services, call us or schedule an appointment online! We serve patients from Coral Gables FL, Palmetto Bay FL, Westchester FL, Brownsville FL, Kendall FL, Pinecrest FL, Richmond West FL, and Goulds FL.