Asthma is a chronic lung condition characterized by the development of swelling and inflammation in the lungs. Over 25 million Americans have asthma, 7 million of them being children. Asthma can range from mild to severe. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there is no cure for asthma, but with proper treatment, most people with asthma can manage their disease with little to no symptoms.
Symptoms of Childhood and Adult Asthma
Inflamed and swollen airways make breathing difficult and lead to a variety of asthma symptoms including:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath, especially after physical activity
- Difficulty sleeping
- Delayed recovery from respiratory infections
Differences Between Childhood and Adult Asthma
The predominant difference between childhood and adult asthma is the frequency in which symptoms are experienced. Children tend to suffer intermittent, episodic symptoms in response to a trigger. Wheezing or coughing sporadically after having a cold or being exposed to an allergen can be common for children. When compared to adults, children are more likely to develop an allergic skin reaction and have food allergies. Adults with asthma tend to experience persistent symptoms and therefore might need daily medications to control their symptoms.
Risk Factors for Asthma
The American Lung Association identifies the following as risk factors for asthma:
- Family history: you are three to six times more likely to develop asthma if you have a parent with asthma
- Viral respiratory infections: children who struggle with respiratory problems early on in life
- Allergies: individuals with allergies
- Occupational exposures: certain chemicals or elements inhaled repeatedly
- Smoking: including those exposed to secondhand smoke
- Air pollution: people raised or living in urban areas
- Obesity: overweight or obese individuals
Treatment of Asthma
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, most asthma treatments are either quick-relief medicines or long-term control medicines. Quick-relief medications such as anticholinergics are meant to be taken at the first sign of symptoms for immediate relief. Quick acting medications will hopefully prevent the worsening of symptoms or flare-ups. Quick-relief medications can prevent asthma symptoms but do not treat the underlying causes of the inflammation in the lungs. Long-term medicines such as corticosteroids are taken every day and help to reduce inflammation and improve asthma control.
If you live in the South Florida area set up an appointment with Dr. Carreño to discuss any questions or concerns you have about asthma. As an ENT specialist, Dr. Carreño is experienced in treating both adults and children with airway conditions such as asthma. Contact his office to set up an appointment today!