For Asthma Awareness Month

It’s Kinda Hard To Breathe

A ten-year old boy sat  hunched forward on the exam table, taking sharp deep breaths.  This usually active Little League baseball player was coughing and wheezing every day.   High pitched whistling could be heard coming from his lungs with every breath he took.

“Do you cough at night?”

“Yeah, all the time.”

“Have you been using your inhaler?”

“Yeah, but it doesn’t seem to help.”

Asthma affects 8% of children and adults in the U.S.  That’s over 485,000 people in the Greater Houston area alone.

Symptoms of asthma include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Recurrent trouble breathing
  • A tight feeling in your chest
  • Trouble breathing or coughing that is worse at night or when you lie down

Your symptoms can be made worse by:

  • Exercise
  • Viral respiratory infections like colds
  • Contact with furry animals
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Smoke from tobacco or wood
  • Pollen
  • Changes in weather
  • Laughing or crying hard
  • Airborne chemicals or dust
  • Menstrual cycle

If you have asthma, you should see your doctor at least several times a year.  See your doctor sooner if:

  • Wheezing or shortness of breath more than 2 days a week
  • Waking up at night once a month with coughing or trouble breathing
  • Using your inhaler more than 2 times a week
  • Your asthma keeps you from doing your normal activities

You may need a breathing test called a pulmonary function test to track how severe  your asthma is.  You may also need allergy testing if your symptoms  worsen around pets or at certain times of the year.  Many people become so used to feeling short of breath that they don’t realize that treating their asthma correctly can make them feel better.

Troy Fiesinger, MD

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