The feeling of being out of breath often presents itself when people are exerting a lot of physical effort. If one is winded or having trouble catching his or her breath at other times, that may be indicative of a health problem like asthma.

Rates of asthma in the United States have been climbing steadily over the past 20 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020 9.6 percent of American adults had asthma, up from 7.3 percent in 2000.

What is asthma?

Asthma occurs when the airways narrow and swell, potentially producing extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, according to the Mayo Clinic. People with asthma may wheeze when breathing in and out and also experience shortness of breath. They also may feel tightness in the chest. Asthma severity can range from mild to life-threatening attacks.

When does asthma occur?

Asthma can flare up in certain situations. For example, exercise-induced asthma can flare up when air is cold and dry; occupational asthma can be triggered by workplace irritants; and allergy-induced asthma can be brought on by pollen, mold or even pet dander.

Diagnosing asthma

Sometimes it is difficult to tell if someone has asthma. Doctors can check for asthma signs, which will include asking about breathing problems and whether they worsen after physical activity or at certain times of year. A doctor also will try to determine if anyone in the family has asthma symptoms. A test called spirometry may be conducted, according to the CDC. It measures how much air a person can breathe out after taking a very deep breath before and after using asthma medicine.

How is asthma treated?

Asthma typically is treated with lifestyle changes and medication. Doctors may suggest staying away from things that trigger an attack, such as remaining indoors during allergy season or covering up your mouth and nose during cold, dry air conditions.

Different medications are used to treat asthma. Quick-relief medicines control symptoms of asthma attacks and may be all that’s needed. Long-term medicines may be used if a person notices he or she has to use quick-relief medicines more frequently. They help reduce the frequency and severity of attacks, but will not help during an attack. A combination of medicines may be used.

Asthma changes over time and modification of treatment may be needed. People with asthma should review symptoms regularly to determine if treatment plans require modification.

Source link