Have you or anyone you’ve known had frequent symptoms of coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath? When you exercise does it make you cough or feel really hard to breathe? Does cold air make you cough or make it feel hard to breathe especially when you exercise? Do you cough at night or wake up early coughing and feel congested in your chest? Do colds go easily to your chest? If any of these symptoms sound familiar it could be asthma.
Asthma is a very complex disease and symptoms and severity can vary greatly between people affected. It is currently estimated to affect 12% of the U.S. population so it is a very common problem. The good thing is it is almost always treatable. Asthma is usually a combination of two things going on in the lungs. One is constriction by smooth muscle around the small airways. The other is inflammation inside the small airways. Both of these problems result in obstruction of airflow.
Asthma can be classified in a variety of ways. These classifications help guide a treatment plan for optimal control and involve a rescue medication and often a controlling medication. One of the more tricky parts about asthma is that it seldom remains the same throughout the year and symptoms often vary through the seasons.