Smoking is harmful to your health and your lungs. It is even more dangerous for those with asthma.
Smoking damages your lungs and destroys the lining of your lungs.
Your lungs are like a sponge, so when you smoke, your lungs can absorb more smoke than you can inhale.
For this reason, the nicotine in your cigarette can cause your lungs to swell.
Even if you only inhale the smoke, it can irritate your lungs and make them more sensitive to other irritants.
This increased sensitivity can make it difficult to breathe. This in turn can increase your risk of a heart attack or lung disease.
Smoking also damages your heart and blood vessels. A smoker’s risk of heart disease is three times higher than that of a nonsmoker.
Smoking can also increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes.
Smoking also increases your risk of lung cancer.
If you’re a smoker, or have a close family member, friend or co-worker who is a smoker, ask them to quit.
There are resources available to you if you are concerned about your lung health, and if you’d like to quit smoking.
If you’re experiencing breathing difficulties and are concerned about your lung health, request help from your local emergency department.
- Urgent Care
- Urgent Care Near Me
If you’re having symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. If you think you’re having a heart attack, don’t wait to seek medical care.
You can also find resources at www.heart.org.
If you’re having breathing difficulties, find out what resources are available to you.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has information on how to get help in your area. Also, check with your local physician to find out if they can refer you to a pulmonary specialist.
If you have asthma, talk to your doctor about your asthma triggers.
If you’re having chest pain, seek immediate care. You may have a heart attack, or you may have symptoms of a heart attack.
The diagnosis of asthma is made based on a physical exam of your lungs and by asking you questions about your symptoms.
If you have breathing difficulties and are concerned about your lung health, your doctor may order a chest X-ray to check for signs of an infection or disease.
Your doctor may also order a CT (computed tomography) scan. This will allow them to see more detail of the lungs.
Once your doctor diagnoses you with asthma, they may order a pulmonary function test to measure how well your lungs are functioning.
Your doctor may recommend a bronchodilator to improve your breathing.
If your doctor suspects that you have an underlying condition, they may order additional tests to determine the cause.
If you have asthma, you may also be referred to a pulmonologist. This type of doctor is known as a “pulmonologist.”
The pulmonologist treats your asthma, and may recommend additional treatment.
Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist in asthma, such as a pulmonologist, allergist, rheumatologist, cardiologist or gastroenterologist.
If you’re using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, this will be discussed with your doctor.
Inhaled medications are the main treatment for asthma.
Your doctor will recommend the most appropriate type and dose of medication for you.
Medications used to treat asthma include:
- Short-acting beta agonists (SABAs)
- Long-acting beta agonists (LABAs)
- Short-acting anticholinergics and leukotriene modifiers
- Long-acting anticholinergics and leukotriene modifiers
You may need to take several medications to treat your asthma.
Your doctor may also recommend an oral corticosteroid, such as:
You may also be prescribed an oral or inhaled corticosteroid to prevent asthma symptoms.
Allergy and Allergy Testing
If you have asthma, your doctor may recommend allergy tests to check for allergies.
Allergy tests to check your allergens, such as:
- Skin prick test
- Serum antibody test
- Serum histamine test
Allergy testing is often performed along with skin tests to determine which allergens cause asthma symptoms.
Allergy testing is usually performed in an allergist’s office.
Asthma Control Test
Some people with asthma find that symptoms improve when they take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. This is known as “asthma control” or “asthma remission” and is not necessarily a sign that the asthma is better.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) recommends that asthma control tests be performed in an allergist’s office.
The test is non-invasive and requires no fasting. It is an assessment of your symptoms and their severity.
As the symptoms improve after using OTC medication, you may find that your asthma symptoms are controlled. Your doctor may ask you to return for an asthma control test a few weeks after you use the medication
If you are using an OTC medication to improve your asthma symptoms, tell your doctor.
Asthma Action Plan
The American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) recommend that you have an asthma action plan.
An action plan is a written record of your asthma treatment plan. It should include:
- A list of your current medications
- The frequency of your use of these medications
- The length of time you use the medications
- The symptoms you experience when you use the medications
- The side effects of your medications
- The triggers that cause your asthma symptoms
The asthma action plan should be reviewed every year by an asthma specialist.
An asthma action plan should be reviewed by an asthma specialist every year.
When to Contact a Medical Professional?
You may wish to contact your primary care doctor, pulmonologist or allergist if you’re experiencing breathing difficulties or have any concerns about your lung health.
Ask your doctor to refer you to a pulmonary specialist if you’re experiencing breathing difficulties.
You should also contact your doctor if you have persistent asthma symptoms for more than two weeks. Asthma should be treated with medication, and not with a procedure.
If you experience asthma symptoms for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor for an asthma evaluation.
Images by Freepik