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Asthma: Treatment and Diagnosis



What is Asthma?


Asthma is the narrowing of the small airways in our lungs from muscle tightening or contracting and secretions of fluid from the lining of the airway from inflammation. This constricts the small airways in our lungs making it harder to get rid of air. It is also why wheezing or high-pitched noises occur when we have an asthma attack. Asthma is an obstructive lung disease.



The Physical Impact of Asthma

There are tubes in the lungs that are our airways. The inner part of our airways can change in size by constriction of the smooth muscle in our airways. Fluid is being secreted when there is inflammation of our lungs and this further decreases the airway size. In an asthma attack air is being blocked on the way out.



Inflammation of our small airways is triggered from irritants that enter our lungs. Pollutants like exhaust from cars or factories, and from smoking and second-hand smoke can trigger an inflammatory response and asthma attack. Inflammation can also be triggered from some foods, stress, and even from stomach acid coming up our esophagus and getting into our lungs (Gastric Reflux).




  • Allergens can trigger an asthma attack
  • Sulfites (food preservative in red wine, beer, salad bars, dehydrated soups, and other foods)
  • Allergies as well as colds or sinus infections
  • Exercise as well as cold air can cause an asthma attack
  • Stress can trigger an asthma attack
  • Gastric Reflux
  • Aspirin can trigger an asthma attack


Symptoms of Asthma


Shortness of breath (SOB), “can’t catch my breath”

Tightness in the chest

Coughing, with mucous production




What is Wheezing?


Wheezing, usually on breathing out, is a whistling noise as your airways get smaller. The airway constriction is mostly in the smaller airways and is something that you can hear when your doctor listens with their stethoscope.

Picture a balloon. When you breathe into the balloon it fills and the balloon gets bigger. If you are still trying to fill the balloon but you pause, the air can ‘push back’ and the balloon gets smaller. You don’t hear any noise when this happens, the neck of the balloon is nice and open. The balloon just gets smaller and you get a mouthful of air. Let’s say you have filled the balloon up and you squeeze the neck letting out a small amount of air. You get a high-pitched noise. This is similar to what is happening during an asthma attack. You can get the air in better than you can get it out.

Diagnosing and Treatment of Asthma

Pay attention to the way things affect your asthma. My asthma was triggered by exercising in colder air. I found that wearing a face covering eliminated these symptoms and let me continue to exercise.

There is a connection between asthma and having eczema as well as allergies.

Here is a link that your doctor will use in helping to diagnose and treat asthma.



Tips on how to Properly Use an Inhaler




Better breathing can improve your posture


Improving our breathing efficiency is one of the best ways to improve your posture. This link takes you to information about breathing and training you can do to have less shoulder and back tension while while improving your posture.




Post reviewed by Meghann Rauser, May 2020


Asthma: Treatment and Diagnosis