Swollen, Inflamed Airways
Asthma is a chronic illness that occurs when the airways of your lungs become swollen and inflamed. The condition reduces the flow of air to your lungs and leads to shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness.
There are two categories of asthma: nonallergic asthma and allergic asthma, which is caused by allergens like pollen or animal dander.
Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person, but most people experience an asthma attack followed by a symptom-free period. Symptoms include:
- Cough with or without phlegm
- Pulling in of the skin between your ribs when breathing
- Shortness of breath that gets worse with activity or exercise
- Pain or tightness in your chest
- Difficulty sleeping
- Abnormal breathing pattern
The experts at Penn State Health use a variety of diagnostic tests to determine if you have asthma, including:
- Allergy testing
- Exhaled nitrous oxide to help determine the amount of inflammation in your lungs
- Lung function tests to determine how well your lungs are working
- Chest X-ray to rule out other causes of your asthma symptoms
- Lung CT scans to assess asthma and rule out other causes of asthma-like symptoms
Although there is no cure for asthma, symptoms in most cases improve with therapy. With proper self-care and medical treatment, most people with asthma lead normal, healthy lives.
Experts in Care
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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care
Comprehensive Care from Asthma Specialists
The asthma experts at Penn State Health are committed to providing state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatment options for our asthma patients. We offer personalized treatment plans that focus on avoiding your triggers and controlling your asthma.
Treatment options include:
- Long-term medicine for mild persistent to severe asthma
- Quick-relief medicine for flare-ups or, if needed, for severe attacks
- Biologic therapy for moderate to severe asthma
- Home care to identify symptoms, avoid triggers, monitor your illness and use medication appropriately
Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.
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