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Inside the Asthma Guide: A Doctor's Tour

By Paul Enright
WebMD Commentary

Paul EnrightNot sure where to start? Dr. Enright, asthma and allergy specialist, helps you navigate WebMD's comprehensive and up-to-date Asthma Guide so you can live and breathe easier.


Do you have asthma? Maybe a family member or a friend has asthma. More than 22 million Americans have asthma today, a number that continues to climb.

In the 25 years since my allergy and pulmonary fellowships in Denver, Colorado, treating people with asthma and working on asthma research studies, I have come to understand how asthma affects daily life for both the patient and family. While the doctor gives you asthma medication and other tools to deal with your breathing problems, you must learn all you can about your asthma to self-manage it on a day-to-day basis. Taking care of your asthma now will allow you to live a healthy, active life for years to come. So I've personally been involved in creating WebMD's Asthma Guide.

At WebMD, we provide you with the most comprehensive, up-to-the minute health information. Our team constantly updates our physician-reviewed information with the latest findings on asthma and other related health conditions. We urge you to return frequently to the Asthma Guide for the latest medical discoveries and breakthroughs.

If you have asthma, your goal is to control it with minimal medication side effects. Control will come from following the asthma medication regimen your doctor prescribes, avoiding asthma triggers, preventing exercise-induced asthma so that you can exercise regularly, eating nutritional foods, and following a written asthma action plan. This knowledge and the written plan will allow you to be more relaxed as you follow the appropriate actions to quickly treat an asthma attack. If you're a caregiver to someone with asthma, your goal is to feel informed and confident as you support your loved one. Our goal is to provide the most thorough and up-to-date medical information to help you and your loved ones live well and thrive with asthma. Let's get started:

Overview & Facts

Recently diagnosed with asthma? Then start now to learn asthma basics, so you can understand the inflammation in your airways. Asthma is a chronic lung disease, meaning it's going to be around long-term, unlike a cold that lasts a week. Maybe you're wondering what caused your asthma in the first place. Finding out about asthma causes and the risk factors for asthma is the first step in asthma prevention. In addition, if you have kids, we know you want to keep them healthy. Take time now to learn about asthma in children, a serious and growing problem in the United States.

Symptoms & Types

Worried that you might have asthma symptoms? Surprisingly, sometimes a chronic cough is the only symptom of asthma, called cough-variant asthma. Learn more about asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath, so you can talk openly with your doctor to see if you need asthma tests to confirm the diagnosis. Many people with allergies also have asthma or develop asthma in adulthood. If you have asthma and allergies, keeping your nose and sinuses clear by avoiding smoke, taking a non-sedating antihistamine every day during allergy season, and, in some cases, getting allergy shots may also help to control your asthma. Some people only get asthma symptoms during exercise, called exercise-induced asthma. Many people with asthma also suffer from sinusitis or from heartburn, common asthma triggers. No matter what you feel, if you learn all about asthma attacks and unusual asthma symptoms, you can try to recognize these signs early on and administer treatment when it's most effective.

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