Asthma refers to inflammation of the airways in the lungs that leads to wheezing. Think of asthma as a disease with two processes. One process is the inflammation of the airways which is the “silent” part of the disease. This inflammation is continously ongoing. The other process is the constriction of the airways which is the “loud” part of the disease that leads to wheezing. It is the inflammation that causes the airways to be “twitchy” and constrict.
Wheezing can be triggered by many things such as cold air, infections and tobacco smoke. Wheezing is managed by a bronchodilator that opens up the airway, however it does not address the underlying process of airway inflammation. Depending on the severity of the inflammation, an inhaled steroid is the first line of treatment for asthma. By reducing inflammation, asthma control is improved and less wheezing occurs.
The goal for asthma treatment is to use the least medications to obtain the best possible control of the disease. Evaluation by a qualified Allergy & Immunology specialist can help determine the allergic triggers of asthma so that appropriate environmental modifications and allergen avoidance can be instituted. Finally, immunotherapy for allergic diseases performed by a qualified Allergy & Immunology specialist is the only treatment modality that can modify the natural course of allergic diseases.