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When you think of asthma, do you picture a school kid taking a break from gym class to use his inhaler? That's how the movies portray it, but in reality, asthma affects the young and the old, and it strikes indoors and out. Many times, asthma is triggered by allergens - not always exercise or activity.
In fact, allergies are one of the most common triggers of asthma, says Mudita Shah, MD, a pediatric and adult allergist and immunologist on the medical staff at Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth. "Cells in the body get educated to react to allergens, such as pollen, pet dander or dust mites," she says. "That causes inflammation, mucus production, redness and swelling."
Asthma, whether triggered by allergies, exercise, cold weather or something else, should be diagnosed and treated by a physician. If you have wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath, see your doctor, advises Dr. Shah. "Allergic disease is one of the few things in medicine that can actually be cured through immunotherapy or allergy shots."
Your doctor will help you find the best treatment for your situation. "There are a lot of ways to control asthma," Dr. Shah says. Avoiding your triggers is the first step, but medications and allergy shots are very effective, too.
"You also need to know how to handle symptoms when they occur," Dr. Shah says. "You and your doctor have to create a plan to handle attacks based on how severe they are and how you respond to treatments."
For a referral to a physician who can help you control your asthma or allergies, visit BaylorHealth.com/AllSaints or call 1.800.4BAYLOR today.
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