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Baylor Medical Center at Carrollton

 
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Is It Asthma? 

Why Are You Wheezing?

When you think of a wheezing, can’t-catch-your-breath asthma attack like you see in the movies, the disease seems clear cut, but many people with mild to moderate asthma may go undiagnosed for years.

“Asthma can vary in severity from a nagging cough to life-threatening shortness of breath,” says Frank Brancaccio, MD, a pulmonologist on the medical staff. “Sometimes kids get it but grow out of it, and adults can develop it as well. It’s one of those diseases that waxes and wanes.”

Asthma tends to run in families. A child who has one parent with the disease has a 25 percent chance of developing it. If both parents have asthma, the child’s odds jump to 50 percent.

If you notice a persistent cough, a sensation of tightness in the chest, wheezing or what seems like a respiratory infection that doesn’t go away, talk to your doctor to see if it might be asthma.

He or she can likely diagnose the disease based on your symptoms and might want to test your lung function to determine how badly your airflow is impaired. It’s important to have your symptoms checked out, since untreated asthma can turn into chronic obstructive asthma, which may be irreversible.   

After the Diagnosis

If your doctor determines you have asthma, there are a few things you can do to help keep it well-controlled:

  • Peak flow meters give you a way to monitor your asthma at home
  • Avoiding triggers can help you control symptoms
  • Common allergens, exercise, weather changes, heavy odors or perfumes might trigger asthma symptoms
  • Maintenance medications can help you manage your asthma, so it doesn’t interfere with your life

“The idea with asthma is that there shouldn’t be any limitations on activities or lifestyle,” Dr. Brancaccio says.

Breathe Easier

For a referral to a pulmonologist on the medical staff at Baylor Carrollton, call 1.800.4BAYLOR.