WHAT IS ASTHMA? Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the airways that waxes and wanes with periods of asthma control and occasional flares.   Some symptoms are shortness of breath, wheezing or bronchospasm, bronchitis, allergic symptoms or may even just be cough.

WHAT CAUSES ASTHMA? We are not sure what causes asthma.  It tends to run in families, occurs more often in urban areas and risk factors include viral infection and allergic symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ASTHMA? Shortness of breath and cough are common asthma symptoms.  Wheezing can also be associated with asthma.  Some forms of asthma do not have the all the typical symptoms (i.e. only cough) and others are related to work place exposures or happen only with exercise.  Patients will likely have some abnormality on a pulmonary function test but often the chest x-ray and oxygen level will be normal.

HOW IS ASTHMA TREATED? The mainstay of asthma treatment is control of symptoms and minimization of severity.  Usually this includes the use of a bronchodilator inhaler and an inhaled corticosteroid.  Also very important in the treatment and monitoring of asthma patients is to minimize triggers for asthma exacerbations or attacks.  Some of these triggers include allergens and respiratory infections.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT ON MY FIRST VISIT TO PCCS? We will perform full pulmonary function testing and an x-ray.  A full medical history will be taken and a physical exam will be done.  Some patients will need further testing of blood and some may need to do some simple tests at home called peak flow meter testing.