Allergy And Asthma

The Pulmonology team at AIG hospitals have separate clinics for patients suffering from allergy and asthma providing comprehensive care for the patients.

Asthma is a common disease affecting individuals of all age groups and causes breathing difficulty.  This disease is characterized by narrowing of airways (branching pipes that take air in your lungs) because the airways of an asthmatic become red and swollen (inflamed).  This makes them extra sensitive to the things which they are exposed to in day-to-day life.

Asthma can run in families because of a genetic tendency.  Allergy (Atopy) to a particular substance can lead to swelling of airways and subsequently to narrowing of airways and symptoms.  A minority can develop asthma even without any predisposing factor (non-atopic or intrinsic asthma).  Asthmatics can have other allergic diseases like allergic rhinitis, eczema.

Asthma symptoms include

  • Wheezing or noisy breathing
  • Cough
  • Tightness of chest
  • Difficulty breathing

These symptoms can be intermittent or persistent.  In patients with intermittent nature of disease, symptoms vary from day to day and sometimes in a particular day itself.  Symptoms can vary from mild to severe.

A diagnosis of asthma is made when patients have typical symptoms, clinical findings with or without an abnormal spirometry result.  “Spirometry” (Lung function test) is a simple non-invasive tool to diagnose Asthma.  During this test, you will be asked to you take a deep breath and then blow out as fast and hard as you can into a tube.  A spirometer machine attached to the tube measures how much air you can blow out of your lungs and how fast you can blow.

Asthma is treated with different types of medicines. The medicines can be inhalers or pills. One or more of these medications can be prescribed depending on the severity of the disease.  The most commonly used medicines are inhalers.

Asthma medicines work in one of the three ways:

  • Quick-relief inhalers- improve symptoms quickly – in 5 to 15 minutes. Almost everyone with asthma has a quick-relief inhaler.  People use these medicines as and when required for their symptoms.  If you require these medicines frequently, you need to consult your doctor as that indicates worsening of the disease.  Some people can feel shaky after frequent use of these medicines.
  • Long-term controller inhalers- They reduce airway inflammation, control asthma and prevent future symptoms. People with frequent asthma symptoms take these once or twice a day.
  • Combination of “Quick relief” and “Long-term controller inhalers”-  some inhalers combine both the features in a single inhaler increasing the convenience.

It is important that you take the prescribed medicines regularly. Asthma if not treated with the right medicines can cause permanent damage to your lungs. More importantly not taking your medicines correctly can cause symptoms to become severe and also might necessitate an admission to the hospital.