Asthma: Frequently Asked Questions

Asthma can be triggered by allergies, inflammation and changes within our own body

Tara Carr, MD, an allergist immunologist at Banner – University Medical Center explains how people with asthma have different triggers, but how all people with asthma need proper treatment.

Q. What is asthma?

A. Asthma is a reversible periodic disease of the airways. This means that the airways clamp down and get very sensitive, causing a variety of symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, and wheezing.

Some people’s asthma is caused by allergies and the resulting inflammation in their airways. For some with non-allergic asthma, their bodies do not metabolize certain chemicals properly and so they have a buildup of these chemicals in their body that then cause their asthma symptoms. Others have asthma due to inflammatory changes within their own body.

Q. Is there anything I can do to prevent asthma?

A. Allergic asthma can sometimes be prevented by treating environmental allergies with allergy shots and other medical therapies.

Q. What are the signs and symptoms of asthma?

A. Shortness of breath, wheezing and heaviness or tightness in the chest are all signs and symptoms of asthma.

Q. What is the difference between allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma?

A. Non-allergic asthma can develop in anybody, especially adults, and is treated similarly to allergic asthma. Allergic asthma is triggered by breathing in allergens, but generally asthma is there all the time because of the changes within patient’s lungs.

Q. How is asthma diagnosed?

A. Asthma is diagnosed based on your history of symptoms and breathing tests, called pulmonary function tests, which can be done right here in the Sinus & Allergy Clinic.

Q. Can I outgrow asthma?

A. Yes. Some children will outgrow asthma and other patients will have it come and go over the course of their life.

Q. What are some treatment options for asthma?

A. If you have allergic asthma, you can be treated for environmental allergies through avoidance measures. There are also inhalers, pill-based therapies and injectable therapies that can be prescribed, based on the severity of your asthma symptoms and the degree of impairment of lung function. It’s important that if you have asthma, your asthma is treated properly and not as another lung issue.