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Could you have asthma? Find out what you can do to prevent asthma from interrupting your life

The ongoing cough you can’t get rid of could be a signal that you have asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects 20.3 million people in the United States. It accounts for approximately 14.5 million missed work days for adults and 14 million missed school days for children annually.

For people who have asthma, the air flowing in and out of their lungs may be blocked by muscle swelling and squeezing. Common symptoms of asthma include cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing.

Ask yourself these questions.

For you:

  • Is there a family history of asthma or allergies?
  • Do you periodically experience shortness of breath and wheezing?
  • When do you notice your symptoms: when you have a cold, when the air quality is poor, when you are exercising or when you are around allergens, such as pollen, mold and animal dander?
  • Are you missing work because of symptoms?
  • Is coughing or wheezing keeping you up at night?

For your child:

  • Does your child cough, wheeze (a rattling sound when they breathe), have chest tightness or shortness of breath?
  • Does your child cough or wheeze with play, exercise, laughter or during temper tantrums?
  • Is your child missing school because of symptoms?
  • Is coughing and wheezing keeping your child up at night?
  • Is there a family history of asthma or allergies?

If you are experiencing symptoms and they are keeping you from work, school or normal activities, you should consider talking to a doctor to see if you have asthma.

Every person has their own triggers. If you have asthma, you can minimize your symptoms by avoiding the factors that trigger your symptoms and by working with your allergist/immunologist. An allergist/immunologist is a physician specially trained to manage and treat allergies and asthma.

To help prevent symptoms, he or she will work with you to figure out your asthma triggers and develop an appropriate management plan, including developing environmental controls and prescribing medication if needed.

The AAAAI has a handbook titled Asthma Management and the Allergist: Better Outcomes at Lower Cost. The report documents that treatment outcomes are better and less expensive when allergists directly provide asthma care or coordinate a care team, compared to when an allergist is not involved. Reviews of the current state of asthma care demonstrate the superior outcomes of allergist-provided care. These outcomes have resulted in:

  • 76% fewer ER visits
  • 77% fewer hospitalizations and reduced lengths of hospital stays
  • 45% fewer sick care office visits
  • 77% fewer missed days from work or school
  • Increased patient satisfaction and improved quality of life

It is estimated that more than 80 percent of all resources expended for asthma treatment are used by 20 percent of patients whose disease is not adequately controlled.

To find an allergist/immunologist in your area or to learn more about asthma, call the AAAAI Physician Referral and Information Line at 1-800-822-2762 or visit the AAAAI Web site. The AAAAI is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States, representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. It has more than 6,000 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.

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