People of all ages suffer from asthma and most of them have been dealing with the problem since their youth. In many cases, mobile urgent care physicians such as Dr. Michael Farzam of House Call Doctor Los Angeles can assist you with the treatment of your asthma.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and constriction of the airway. There are several different types (see below) that vary by severity, but all are characterized by an increased sensitivity to allergens and irritants like pollen or dust. The result is inflammation of the airways which often leads to swelling and then constriction.
Common symptoms of asthma may superficially resemble those of a bad allergy, a common cold, or a similar infection including wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and/or chest tightness. These, coupled with a lack of a definitive test for asthma, can make a diagnosis relatively tricky; identifying asthma in a patient often requires several visits to a physician. Once diagnosed, the vast majority of patients are able to live comfortable and even active lives. However, managing symptoms must remain a priority pretty much indefinitely.
- Asthma is not contagious.
- Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be managed and most people who have asthma are able to live full lives.
- Those with asthma can live active lifestyles, including participating in sports, but they must remain especially vigilant.
- Waking up at night because of breathing difficulties not due to a cold or infection is often considered when diagnosing asthma.
What are the different types?
There are two primary types of asthma:
- Intermittent asthma. Those affected by this type may experience asthma symptoms only once or twice per week. Intermittent asthma is considered to be the mildest form of the disease.
- Persistent asthma. This type of asthma is broken into three categories – mild, moderate, and severe – and symptoms occur more frequently.
- Mild persistent asthma. Symptoms may occur more than two times per week, but not every day. Night awakenings rarely occur more than four times per month. In most cases, people with mild persistent asthma only have minor limits placed on their activity.
- Moderate persistent asthma. Symptoms may occur as often as every day and affected individuals may wake up at night as often as one or two times per week. Some limitations may be placed on an individual’s activities but many people are able to live active lives so long as they are able to manage their symptoms.
- Severe persistent asthma. This form of asthma is rare and occurs in less than 10 percent of those with the disease. Those with severe persistent asthma may experience symptoms, including asthma attacks, several times per day and night. Most people with this form of asthma have some restrictions on their activities and a pulmonary specialist may be required to assist patients with keeping their symptoms in check.
What are common asthma triggers?
There is a very wide range of triggers for asthma, ranging from common allergens to stress. This is a comprehensive list of the most common triggers:
- Allergens: pets, pollen, mold (outdoor and indoor), dust mites, cockroaches
- Irritants: perfumes or other sprays, paint, smoke (any kind)
- Illnesses such as colds or the flu
- Sinus or respiratory infections
- Food sensitivities
- Exercise or physical stress
- Weather, particularly any kind of extreme weather including heat waves and cold snaps
- Emotional or psychological stress
- Acid reflux (heartburn)
- Eosinophils (white blood cell involved with eosinophilic asthma)
What kinds of treatments exist for asthma?
There are a wide range of treatments for asthma patients ranging from inhalants to corticosteroids. For emergencies, hospitalization may be required.
Most asthma patients are prescribed a rescue inhaler to manage minor and mild symptoms on a regular basis. People who have trouble using inhalers, such as children or the elderly, may also be prescribed alternative delivery systems like nebulizers. Those with persistent asthma may also be prescribed inhaled steroids to fight inflammation and strengthen the airways. A range of other medications may also be used to treat asthma and should be discussed with your doctor.
When should I see a doctor for asthma?
If you have a newly occurring case of asthma, it is important to see a doctor very soon. If you have had the illness most of your life, you are probably dealing with it in some way or another already. The vast majority of asthma patients are able to control their symptoms—however, when symptoms become unmanageable with current medications and/or treatments, patients should see their doctor to discuss new treatment options. Of course, if breathing becomes truly difficult, it is a life or death emergency, and patients should immediately go to an emergency room or call 911 if they are unable to get one quickly.
Do you need an Urgent Care House Call Doctor?
Those in need of urgent care in Los Angeles who wish to avoid attending a medical facility may benefit from the assistance of a board-certified doctor like Dr. Michael Farzam from House Call Doctor Los Angeles.
We can visit nearly any location in the Greater Los Angeles area, not just homes, but offices, hotels, work sites – just about anywhere you’re likely to be. To contact us, use the phone number above or view our contact page.