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The Causes and Risks of Asthma
Complications of Asthma
Treatment of Asthma
Prevention of Asthma
If you experience wheezing, difficulty breathing, pain or tightening in your chest or coughing without any other flu symptoms, talk to your doctor about asthma. If your child wheezes, has spasmodic coughs that are worse in the night or coughs that last more than a few days, talk to your doctor.
Diagnosing asthma can be tricky
Because the symptoms of asthma are similar to any number of lung conditions and can vary from mild to severe, diagnosing asthma can be difficult. Vocal Cord Dysfunction (episodic laryngeal dysfunction) is often confused with asthma. This condition usually affects women between ages 20-40 and includes symptoms similar to asthma. As well, emphysema and congestive heart failure cause symptoms like those caused by asthma. For these reasons, several different diagnostic procedures will likely be used to screen and diagnose asthma.
Diagnosing asthma begins with a physical exam, coupled with an complete medical history evaluation. Often, pulmonary function tests will follow, testing the amount of air that moves in and out with each breathe. A common lung function test is called a peak flow meter, which measures the rate at which you expel breathe. This test can be used at home to help patients detect airway obstructions before the onset of an asthma attack. Often, lung function tests will be carried out after taking medications used to open the airways, known as bronchodilators. If these medications cause your lung functioning to improve, a diagnosis of asthma is likely.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology provides outstanding resources for those suffering from asthma and it's complications. For parents of asthmatic children, the Allergy & Asthmatic Network Mothers of Asthmatics offers excellent information for both parents and children.
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