Asthma Care

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways, the tubes that move air in and out of your lungs. When you have asthma, the airways are always sensitive and swollen. If a trigger is present, it can cause a reaction that narrows your airways, making it difficult to breathe. A severe asthma attack can lead to hospitalization or even cause death.


The pulmonary and respiratory professionals at North Kansas City Hospital can help you find the cause of your asthma symptoms and develop a tailored treatment plan to reduce them.

Symptoms

Not every person with asthma will have the same symptoms:

• Coughing
• Chest tightness or pressure
• Difficulty breathing
• Shortness of breath after physical activity
• Wheezing

Types

Your doctor will identify the type of asthma you have and design the most effective treatment plan.

Common Types of Asthma

  • Allergic asthma is triggered when you breathe, swallow or touch a substance that causes an allergic reaction. Allergens that may cause this reaction are:
    • Cockroaches
    • Dust mites
    • Mold
    • Pet dander
    • Pollen
  • Exercise-induced asthma (exercise-induced bronchoconstriction) is triggered during strenuous exercise. Airways narrow as you breathe faster and deeper to bring more oxygen into the body.
  • Nonallergic asthma is not caused by an allergic reaction. Instead, it may be triggered by:
    • Anxiety or stress
    • Cold, dry air
    • Poor air quality or pollution
    • Respiratory illness or infection
    • Smoking
  • Occupational asthma is caused by exposure to substances on the job, such as fumes from chemicals. Symptoms can vary based on how often you are exposed.

Treatment Options

When you have asthma, it’s important to work with your doctor to create a custom treatment plan. Taking asthma medications properly can help prevent an asthma emergency, which can be life-threatening. Managing your asthma as directed will also help you live an active life full of the things you enjoy.

Some options your doctor may recommend for treatment:

• Long-term control medications, including inhaled steroids and long-acting beta agonist inhalers, help prevent asthma attacks by reducing swelling in the airways, making them less likely to react to triggers.
• Quick-relief (rescue) medications, such as bronchodilators and oral steroids, work fast to control asthma symptoms by relaxing the muscles that can tighten around the airways.
• Nebulizers may be prescribed for people who have difficulty using inhalers. The machine changes medications from a liquid to a mist so they can be inhaled through a mouthpiece into the lungs.
• Newer treatments, such as bronchial thermoplasty, can provide long-lasting asthma control.

Find a Doctor

Many people are able to manage their asthma with help from their primary care doctor. However, if asthma is not well-controlled, your doctor may refer you to a specialist.
Allergy specialists are usually trained in treating both allergies and asthma. They may perform an allergy test to help determine which allergens trigger your asthma. Knowing what causes your asthma attacks can help play a role in designing your treatment plan.
• Pulmonologists treat a variety of lung conditions and diseases. If you have other respiratory symptoms besides asthma, or if you have severe asthma, your doctor may refer you to this type of specialist. If you are a candidate for bronchial thermoplasty, a pulmonologist will perform the procedure.

Resources


• Find support among other patients who suffer from a lung disease.
• Learn how to live well with a chronic condition such as asthma. North Kansas City Hospital offers a six-week workshop to help you learn skills that can help you thrive and achieve your goals. View upcoming classes.
• Read about why a woman’s chance of being diagnosed with asthma increases as she ages
Watch Dr. Michael R. Brown demonstrate how to use an inhaler correctly, so you can receive the maximum benefits of your medication.

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Andrea Anthony, MD

Andrea Anthony

Review Dr. Anthony's presentation on Bronchial Thermoplasty

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Recognized by the American Association for Respiratory Care since 2002 for high-quality lung care.