Asthma Shouldn’t Be Holding You Back
See an Asthma Specialist in New Orleans
Dr. Reena Mehta is a board-certified asthma specialist in New Orleans that can help you and your children thrive over asthma.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect of a pediatric allergist, but Dr. Mehta was incredible! My 5 year old son had a terrible persistent dry cough so I decided to take him to see Dr. Mehta…She was thorough and explained everything she was doing to both me and my son. Dr. Mehta was great at developing rapport with my kid and he loved the breathing tests she had him do! She gave him nose spray and even taught him (and me) the correct way to use it!“
– Michael R, March 2019
Asthma is a chronic disease involving the bronchial tubes. The bronchial tubes are airways that allow air to come in and out of the lungs. In the case of asthma, these airways are always inflamed and can tighten when asthma symptoms are triggered. Constricted airways make it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, or tightness in the chest.
Many people with asthma also have allergies that make their asthma symptoms worse. This is called allergic asthma.
Exercise-induced asthma, also called exercise-induced bronchio-constriction is triggered by strenuous exercise. Your allergist / immunologist can help you develop a management plan to keep your symptoms under control before, during, and after physical activity.
Asthma affects millions of children and their families. Most children who develop asthma do so before the age of five, and about one in five children grow out of their asthma by age 19.
Occupational asthma is triggered by inhaling fumes, gases, dust, or other potentially harmful substances while in the workplace.
Cough Variant Asthma
Cough variant asthma is a form of asthma in which the only symptom is a chronic dry cough. Individuals with cough variant asthma generally don’t find relief with over-the-counter cough medications. Successful treatment usually requires prescription medication.
Eosinophilic asthma (EA) is a rare but severe type of asthma that is marked by elevated levels of eosinophils in the airways and the respiratory system. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that are responsible for fighting infections and attacking invading bacteria. In eosinophilic asthma, overactivity of these white blood cells causes inflammation and swelling, resulting in severe eosinophilic asthma symptoms. Individuals with eosinophilic asthma typically do not respond well to initial treatment with inhaled corticosteroids and usually require more aggressive or alternative eosinophilic asthma treatment & management strategies. Eosinophilic asthma is typically diagnosed with a blood test and it affects roughly 5% of the adult population. Elevated eosinophils can also be detected in sputum or saliva to confirm the diagnosis.
Eosinophilic asthma can cause excessive inflammation that can impact other systems in the body as well, commonly causing inner ear infections, nasal polyps, chronic sinus infections, aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease, and even gastrointestinal issues.
Neutrophilic asthma is a severe refractory type of asthma that’s associated with high neutrophil levels in sputum, fixed airway obstruction, and poor response to standard treatment with inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta agonists, and other routine asthma management medications. Neutrophilic asthma is a relatively broad disease category, encompassing about 30% to 50% of diagnosed adult asthma patients. This type of asthma is often associated with chronic bacterial or viral infections, smoking, obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, sinusitis, and occupational asthma. Dr. Mehta will discuss how to diagnosis neutrophilic asthma, symptoms, & treatment options.
Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome
Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome (ACOS) describes the medical situation in which a patient has both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) simultaneously. Like asthma, COPD causes breathing problems and obstructs airflow, sometimes making it difficult for doctors to diagnose both conditions when both are present.
Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome is most common in people between age 50 and 74, current and previous smokers, those with a history of severe asthma, individuals with long-term exposure to airborne irritants, or people with a family history of COPD. Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome management is complex and often requires a personalized treatment approach that involves lifestyle changes, oxygen and lung rehabilitation, exercise, breathing techniques, avoidance of airborne irritants, and a full asthma regimen.
Asthma symptoms can be quite limiting, and vary significantly from person to person. Wheezing is the most common symptom of asthma. Other symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Chronic coughing
- Trouble sleeping due to coughing or wheezing
Asthma symptoms may worsen during exercise, when you have a cold, or during times of high stress. Asthma attacks, also called asthma flare ups, are often caused by allergies and exposure to common allergens like pet dander, dust mites, pollen or mold. Asthma attacks may also be induced by smoke, pollution, cold air, or changes in weather.
Asthma Symptoms in Children
In some children, chronic cough may be the only symptom of asthma. Other children may show the same symptoms as adults with asthma – coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath. Bring your child to see Dr. Mehta if your child experiences the following symptoms:
- Constant coughing, which is often worse at night
- Coughing that is made worse by viral infections, happens while your child is asleep, or is triggered by exercise and cold air
- Wheezing or whistling sound when your child exhales
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing, which may be associated with exercise
- Chest tightness – a young child may say that his chest “hurts” or “feels funny”
- Fatigue – your child may slow down or stop playing
- Problems feeding or grunting during feeding (infants)
- Avoiding sports or social activities
- Problems sleeping due to coughing or difficulty breathing
Paying attention to when symptoms occur can help Dr. Mehta develop a management plan that best fits your child’s needs. Do the symptoms occur:
Spirometry is a breathing test that measures the amount of air your lungs can hold and the speed of the air you inhale or exhale. Dr. Mehta will use a spirometry test to diagnose asthma severity and measure how well different treatments are working.
Managing any underlying allergy triggers can drastically improve asthma symptoms and help to prevent asthma attacks. For this reason, Dr. Mehta will also run allergy tests to ensure that you’re receiving comprehensive care for your asthma.
There is no cure for asthma, but asthma symptoms can be controlled by taking your medications as directed and learning to avoid triggers that provoke your asthma symptoms.
The asthma management plan that works for one person can look much different than what works for another. The types and doses of asthma medications you need depend on your age, your symptoms, the severity of your asthma, and medication side effects. Your asthma may change over time, so it’s important that you continue to work with your allergist to track your symptoms and adjust your treatment plan as needed.
Controller medications are the cornerstone of chronic symptom management. They are taken regularly to control chronic symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. Your controller medications may include inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, anticholinergics, long-acting beta agonists (LABAs), theophylline, or combination inhalers that contain both a corticosteroid and a LABA.
Rescue medications are used to quickly relax and open the airways during an asthma attack, or prior to exercising if prescribed. Rescue medications include short-acting beta-agonists like albuterol, levalbuterol, and pirbuterol. Oral and intravenous corticosteroids may also be prescribed for use during serious asthma attacks. Asthma rescue medications do not take the place of controller medications, and should only be used in the prescribed circumstances. If you rely on rescue relief more than twice a week, it’s time to see Dr. Mehta.
Biologic injections, including omalizumab, benralizumab, mepolizumab, and reslizumab can help control symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. Blood tests may be necessary to determine if these treatments are suitable for your specific case of asthma.
If you have allergy-induced asthma, allergy shots (immunotherapy) or allergy medications may be prescribed to reduce your body’s sensitivity to a particular allergen.
Individuals with asthma are at risk of developing complications from respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia. It’s important that people with asthma, especially adults, get vaccinated annually.
See an Asthma Specialist in New Orleans
If asthma is complicating your life, it might be time to see an asthma specialist. Dr. Mehta has a reputation for developing strong relationships with her patients and being exceptionally attentive to their needs and concerns.
Call us anytime, M-F, 8am-5pm.
Saturday appointments available upon request.
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