Asthma can make it difficult to breathe, and during flare-ups, the symptoms can become serious. At his New York City practice, Dr. Jose Batlle provides asthma treatments based on each patient’s symptoms, using medication and other techniques to reduce symptoms and even prevent exacerbations. Plus, Dr. Batlle performs ongoing testing and evaluation to ensure every patient’s treatment remains optimized.

Asthma Q & A

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that develops when the tissue lining the airways becomes irritated and inflamed. During an asthma attack, the airways become “squeezed,” or constricted, interfering with normal airflow and making it more difficult to breathe.

Asthma also causes excess mucus production in the airways, making it harder to breathe. Some patients with asthma only experience symptoms during a flare-up or exacerbation, while others can experience some asthma symptoms on a regular basis, sometimes daily.

What symptoms are associated with asthma and asthma flare-ups?

Asthma flare-ups are associated with symptoms like:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing noises in the chest and airways when breathing
  • Excess mucus production in the airways and the lungs
  • Coughing

Flare-ups can occur as a result of exposure to dust, pollen, smoke, chemicals, other irritants, or from strenuous exercise (sometimes referred to as exercise-induced asthma). Extreme temperatures can also cause symptoms to become worse.

What are the risk factors for asthma?

Although researchers don’t know the underlying cause of asthma, they have identified risk factors that can increase the chances of developing asthma, including:

  • Family history
  • Viral respiratory infections, especially during childhood and infancy
  • History of allergies or eczema (dermatitis)
  • Long-term occupational exposures to chemicals and other irritants
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

Living in an area with a lot of smog can also increase the chances of developing asthma.

How is asthma treated?

Although there is no cure for asthma, patients with the disease can manage symptoms and exacerbations with ongoing care.

Most patients with asthma use a portable inhaler -- sometimes called a rescue inhaler -- to treat symptoms when they develop. Portable inhalers are small enough to be carried in a pocket, purse, or backpack, and they use a trigger or pump mechanism to dispense medication, which is breathed in through a mouthpiece.

Some patients may use a nebulizer to deliver medications. Nebulizers use electricity, and they’re commonly used for patients who have COPD, but they can treat asthma in some instances.

In addition to medication, Dr. Batlle will develop an asthma action plan that includes lifestyle changes, including losing excess weight, being more physically active, and taking steps to avoid allergens and other triggers that can cause a flare-up.

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