If you’ve noticed breathing isn’t quite as effortless as it used to be, asthma could be the root cause. This chronic condition affects about 1 in 13 Americans and creates inflammation and narrowing of your airways, making breathing a challenge.
Differentiating between signs of asthma and other conditions, like a chest cold, can sometimes be difficult. Without treatment, however, asthma can get worse and trigger serious lung conditions, like pneumonia.
At Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours in Layton, Utah, our board-certified providers specialize in diagnosing and treating asthma. Of course, not all breathing issues indicate asthma — but that doesn’t mean they don’t require attention.
Here’s a look at three breathing problems you should never ignore and when it’s time to seek medical help.
1. Persistent cough
Having an ongoing cough can signal many different issues, like bronchitis, a severe cold, and even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But if you have a dry cough that persists for weeks or months, asthma could be the cause.
Some people develop cough-variant asthma for which the main symptom is a persistent, non-productive (dry) cough that lasts more than two months. This type of cough usually gets worse at night when inflammation increases; when you’re exposed to triggers such as smoke, pollen, or dust; and with exercise.
Because this type of asthma is easy to confuse with other conditions that cause persistent coughs, like post-nasal drip from allergies, it’s important to see your provider at Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours.
Our team can measure your lung function using different tests that target cough-variant asthma, such as spirometry, which measures how much air you exhale and how fast you can empty your lungs completely, or a methacholine challenge test, which narrows your airways to trigger asthma symptoms.
2. Shortness of breath
It’s normal to experience shortness of breath from time to time, such as after an intense exercise session or when you have a sinus or upper respiratory infection. But if you’ve noticed you’re experiencing shortness of breath along with feelings of tightness or pain in your chest or when you’re at rest, asthma could be the cause.
When you have asthma, your airways swell or become congested. This makes taking normal breaths difficult. But while shortness of breath is a hallmark symptom of asthma, it can also be the result of other health conditions, so be sure to see your provider for an accurate diagnosis.
When your breath can’t move properly through your airways, you may experience wheezing. Wheezing creates a rattling or whistling sound as you breathe, though sometimes it may make your breathing sound raspy.
Asthmatic wheezing usually occurs when you’re exposed to a trigger, like mold, animal dander, dust, or pollen. But asthma isn’t the only cause of wheezing. Other conditions that may generate wheezing include:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Heart failure
Treating the underlying condition that’s causing the wheezing is the only way to manage this breathing problem. If you are or have been experiencing wheezing, schedule an appointment with your provider at Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours as soon as possible.
Help for breathing problems
Because breathing problems can be caused by many different conditions, it’s important to see your provider at Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours for an evaluation. Our team can accurately diagnose asthma using special lung-function tests.
If asthma is the root cause of your breathing trouble, our specialists create a customized asthma treatment plan to help manage your condition. The plan may include:
- Trigger avoidance
- Steroid inhalers
- Allergy medications
- Asthma maintenance medication
If you’re struggling with any of the above breathing problems or are worried you may have asthma, contact Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours in Layton, Utah, to schedule an appointment. You can also message our team online.