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Every breath can be a struggle for those dealing with allergic asthma

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Allergy and asthma flares are difficult at any time of the year, but especially here in South Texas. 

More than 25 million Americans suffer from asthma.  For people with severe forms of the disease, every breath can be a struggle. 

"About 60 percent of that population of asthmatics have allergic asthma," said Corpus Christi Medical Center Emergency Director Dr. Juan Ramirez. 

People who have allergies often are sensitive to more than one substance. 

"Allergic asthma is a hyperactive airway that is caused by different allergens. Some of them are rodent dust, mite dust, cockroaches, wood fires, and also some infections like sinus infections, otitisinfections in the kids, or super colds. All of those can induce allergic asthma as well," said Dr. Ramirez. 

Corpus Christi Medical Center Emergency Director Dr. Juan Ramirez says if left untreated, this can be deadly. 

"Asthma in general, and allergic asthma can be life-threatening, especially in little kids or in kids who have allergic asthma. Because the immunological response is very fast and very high, that can cause the airway to tighten up, and also develop the secretions to be released that can trigger severe respiratory distress," said Dr. Ramirez. 

The big question is…is this preventable? 

There have been a lot of studies that have shown that the proper use of long-term inhalers and medication for asthma can prevent dramatically, and decrease dramatically, and therefore decrease the asthma morbidity and mortality in our population," said Dr. Ramirez. 

Symptoms:
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. You may have infrequent asthma attacks, have symptoms only at certain times - such as when exercising - or have symptoms all the time. 

Asthma signs and symptoms include:

  •  Shortness of breath
  •  Chest tightness or pain
  •  Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  •  A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
  •  Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu     

Signs that your asthma is probably worsening include:

  • Asthma signs and symptoms that are more frequent and bothersome
  • Increasing difficulty breathing (measurable with a peak flow meter, a device used to check how well your lungs are working)
  • The need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often  For some people, asthma signs and symptoms flare up in certain situations:
  • Exercise-induced asthma, which may be worse when the air is cold and dry
  • Occupational asthma, triggered by workplace irritants such as chemical fumes, gases or dust
  • Allergy-induced asthma, triggered by airborne substances, such as pollen, mold spores, cockroach waste or particles of skin and dried saliva shed by pets (pet dander)

When to see a doctor/Seek emergency treatment: 

Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Work with your doctor to determine what to do when your signs and symptoms worsen - and when you need emergency treatment. Signs of an asthma emergency include:

  • Rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
  • No improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler, such as albuterol
  • Shortness of breath when you are doing minimal physical activity  Contact your doctor  See your doctor:
  • If you think you have asthma. If you have frequent coughing or wheezing that lasts more than a few days or any other signs or symptoms of asthma, see your doctor. Treating asthma early may prevent long-term lung damage and help keep the condition from worsening over time.
  • To monitor your asthma after diagnosis. If you know you have asthma, work with your doctor to keep it under control. Good long-term control helps you feel better from day to day and can prevent a life-threatening asthma attack.
  • If your asthma symptoms get worse. Contact your doctor right away if your medication doesn't seem to ease your symptoms or if you need to use your quick-relief inhaler more often. Don't try to solve the problem by taking more medication without consulting your doctor. Overusing asthma medication can cause side effects and may make your asthma worse.
  • To review your treatment. Asthma often changes over time. Meet with your doctor regularly to discuss your symptoms and make any needed treatment adjustments.
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