Asthma is typically defined as acute reversible airways obstruction. Most typically, one thinks of the young patient with intermittent wheezing. However, asthma does present in the adult population as a new diagnosis. Some of these patients even present without shortness of breath or wheezing. Sometimes a patient’s chief problem is coughing. We call this “cough equivalent asthma”. Approximately 10% of asthmatics cough rather than wheeze.
Asthma is chiefly an inflammatory disease of the airways, and anti-inflammatory therapy with inhaled steroids is a cornerstone of asthma management. Often inhaled steroids are combined with other medicines in combination inhalers if the severity of the disease warrants.
The asthma patient should undergo a thorough evaluation for occult triggers such as sinus disease, gastroesophageal reflux, and allergies. These may all potentiate asthma and prevent successful treatment. Patients may undergo extensive testing and education to identify and help avoid triggers of their asthma.
Another key to control in asthma is patient education. We like all of our patients to have a thorough understanding of asthma, in particular asthma issues of monitoring and treatment. Peak flow meters can prove to be quite helpful as well as patient diaries. The Asthma Control Test can help to identify if a patient’s asthma is well controlled. Sometimes symptoms may be subtle, and patients often underestimate the severity of their disease. To take the Asthma Control test visit asthmacontrol.com.