Signs and Symptoms of Bronchial Asthma
With bronchial asthma, you may have one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness of chest
- Excessive coughing or a cough that keeps you awake at night
Diagnosing Bronchial Asthma
Because asthma symptoms don't always happen during your doctor's appointment, it's important for you to describe your, or your child's, asthma signs and symptoms to your health care provider. You might also notice when the symptoms occur such as during exercise, with a cold, or after smelling smoke. Asthma tests may include:
- Spirometry: A lung function test to measure breathing capacity and how well you breathe. You will breathe into a device called a spirometer.
- Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF): Using a device called a peak flow meter, you forcefully exhale into the tube to measure the force of air you can expend out of your lungs. Peak flow monitoring can allow you to monitor how well your asthma is doing at home.
- Chest X-ray: Your doctor may do a chest X-ray to rule out any other diseases that may be causing similar symptoms.
Treating Bronchial Asthma
Once diagnosed, your health care provider will recommend asthma medication (which can include asthma inhalers and pills) and lifestyle changes to treat and prevent asthma attacks. For example, long-acting anti-inflammatory asthma inhalers are often necessary to treat the inflammation associated with asthma. These inhalers deliver low doses of steroids to the lungs with minimal side effects if used properly. The fast-acting or "rescue" bronchodilator inhaler works immediately on opening airways during an asthma attack.
If you have bronchial asthma, make sure your health care provider shows you how to use the inhalers properly. Be sure to keep your rescue inhaler with you in case of an asthma attack or asthma emergency. While there is no asthma cure yet, there are excellent asthma medications that can help with preventing asthma symptoms. Asthma support groups are also available to help you better cope with your asthma.