Everyone’s asthma experience is going to be a little bit different. A diversity of triggers and varied levels of severity mean that everyday life with asthma could look very different from one person to another. For some people, asthma may amount to little more than a minor nuisance. For others, this breathing condition can interfere with everyday life and require consistent monitoring.
What Triggers an Asthma Attack?
Your asthma symptoms will likely not be in full effect every minute of every day. But you should realize your airway is always already swollen and twitchy (that is by definition “Asthma” and is often caused by ongoing allergy exposures). That means you’re primed and ready to react to various stimuli all the time. These stimuli are called “triggers.”
The most common triggers that can lead to an asthma attack include:
- Allergens you breath in: Anything that might otherwise make you start sneezing (cat or dog dander, mold spores, pollens, and dust, for example) could cause an asthma attack.
- Exercise and physical activity
- Cold air
- Viral infections (like the common cold germ rhinovirus or influenza)
- Pollutants in the air (for example, heavy smog or smoke).
- Stress and strong emotions.
- Specific medication and medication types (you should talk to your doctor about which medications may cause an asthma attack).
Each patient seems to have their own personal list of triggers so it is important to talk with your allergist to identify your own triggers. Together a prevention and treatment program can get started so you find your allergy relief.
Does Asthma Cause Excess Phlegm?
Asthma has both inflammation and bronchoconstriction. With inflammation the body’s defense cells cause injury to the lining of the bronchial tubes. This injury is a bit like what we see when skinning our knee—swollen, raw, and oozing. That oozing causes the extra fluid we call phlegm. Getting better control of the asthma means healing the injured tissue. The healed bronchial tubes not only produce less phlegm, they don’t spasm/constrict as much either!
Does Asthma Make You Cough?
Because asthma is a breathing condition, many people wonder: does asthma make you cough? Traditional asthma symptoms will usually include:
- Tightness of the chest
- A wheeze during exhalation
- Feeling short of breath
- Trouble sleeping due to breathing issues
So where does coughing fit in? Well, asthma almost always causes some cough. But when asthma presents as only coughing, it’s usually known as cough-variant asthma.
Cough-variant asthma often presents with the same triggers as regular asthma—allergens, exercise, infections, etc. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, cough-variant asthma can impede your ability to breathe normally. Knowing that your cough is asthma-induced is essential to your health and comfort, as over the counter cough medication will not be able to provide any relief. Instead, avoiding your triggers and talking to your doctor about asthma treatments is the best way to handle cough-variant asthma.
How Often Should I Use My Inhaler?
Many people with asthma wonder, how many inhaler puffs are too many? The answer is not exactly straightforward. Not all inhalers use the same medication and not everyone with asthma requires the same dosage. So you should always consult with your allergist for the right treatment plan.
Controller Inhalers/Medications: The dose of these medications stays the same every day. Do the same dose if you are well or sick!!
Reliever Inhalers: You add in an inhaler such as albuterol when your asthma symptoms happen. Common rules of thumb are: 1) If you are having asthma more than twice a week your prevention/controller program needs to improve. 2) If your albuterol suddenly is needed more than every 4 hours or more than four times in a 24 hour period your asthma is very out of control and you need to do something quickly. That may be getting seen, calling your provider, or starting a rescue medication such as oral steroids. Your asthma plan reminds you what to do.
Manage Your Asthma
There’s no cure for asthma, but symptoms can be effectively treated and managed. Mild asthma can put a damper on some activities and make you uncomfortable when it flares up.
But severe asthma needs to be treated seriously. Under the right conditions and left untreated, severe asthma can become a life-threatening condition. The more you know about your asthma, the more effectively you can treat the symptoms, keeping the condition on the back-burner so you can enjoy your everyday life with peace of mind.
With the right treatment, and preparation, your asthma doesn’t have to stop you from much. Have more questions about asthma? Contact our offices to schedule a consultation.