Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs caused by swelling and irritation in airway linings. Tightening of the airway muscles restricts air flow, resulting in wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Airway inflammation can be due to allergies, viral respiratory infections, or airborne irritants.
Asthma symptoms can range from mild to severe and can occur occasionally, daily, seasonally, or year-round.
Asthma symptoms may include:
Asthma attacks often can be triggered by exposure to smoke (tobacco, cooking, fire, vehicle exhaust, etc.), exercise (vigorous physical activity), weather, illness and infections (colds, flu, ear infections, etc.), and irritants (cleaning products, paints, perfumes, candles, etc.).
UMMC Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology specialists use a variety of diagnostic tests to evaluate your asthma and then establish the best course of individualized treatment. In addition, our allergists and immunologists have expertise in dealing with asthma and allergies during pregnancy.
These non-invasive tests help determine lung function, airway obstruction, and whether there is improvement after therapy or medication. Different procedures measure lung function in different ways, so a UMMC allergist or immunologist will determine which lung test is most appropriate. A peak flow meter measures how well controlled the asthma is. A spirometer is a device that assesses lung function, and an oximeter is a small machine that measures oxygen saturation (the amount of oxygen) in the blood.