Asthma is a chronic, or lifelong, disease affecting the airways that carry air to and from the lungs. It can be serious, even life threatening. The good news is that it can be managed so you can live a normal, healthy life.
Helping You Manage Asthma for a Healthy Lifestyle
Franciscan Health physicians and other specialists form a team focused on helping both adults and children manage and treat asthma. We offer comprehensive services and advanced treatments such as bronchial thermoplasty. Because asthma is a lifelong health issue with no cure, asthma education is critical to helping patients understand what triggers can lead to issues with managing their asthma. Our team of educators is AE-C certified and works with our patients to develop asthma management plans and ways to avoid asthma attacks. For adults with asthma, several of our hospitals also offer Breathe Well, Live Well in partnership with the American Lung Association - a small group workshop that teaches adults the knowledge and self-management skills to take control of their asthma.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a serious condition that requires medical management, can lead to frequent emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
Not all people with asthma have the same symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath, chest "tightness"
- Cough lasting more than a week, or that happens during the night or after exercise
- Chronic cough (sometimes coughing is the only symptom you will have)
- When you have a cold, it lasts for more than 10 days, and goes into your chest
Asthma can drastically impact quality of life, and while a chronic disease, it can be successfully managed for long term health. Anyone can get asthma, at any age. In Indiana, approximately 1 in 11 (9.1%) adults, age 18 and older, are currently diagnosed with asthma.
How is asthma diagnosed?
In addition to physical exams, our team specializes in diagnostic tests to measure lung function. Lung function test determine how much air moves in and out as you breathe. These tests may include:
- Spirometry - This test estimates the narrowing of your bronchial tubes by checking how much air you can exhale after a deep breath and how fast you can breathe out.
- Peak flow - A peak flow meter is a simple device that measures how hard you can breathe out. Lower than usual peak flow readings are a sign your lungs may not be working as well and that your asthma may be getting worse.
- Imaging tests - A chest X-ray and high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) scan of your lungs and sinuses can identify any structural abnormalities or diseases, such as infection, that can cause breathing problems.
- Allergy testing - This can be performed by skin test or blood test. Allergy tests can identify allergy to pets, dust, mold and pollen.
- Provocative testing for exercise and cold-induced asthma - In these tests, your physician will measure your airway obstruction before and after you perform vigorous physical activity or take several breaths of cold air.