Asthma (Reactive Airway Disease; RAD)
Asthma, also called reactive airway disease (RAD), is a chronic lung disease in which the air passages become swollen and irritated, causing wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. This irritation is often caused by something external which is referred to a trigger. Common examples of triggers are cold air, mold, pollen, animal dander, dust, and exercise. Many patients with asthma may have many different triggers. The inflammation can take different forms, including narrowing of the airways (bronchoconstriction), swelling of the tissues lining the airway, and an increase of mucus production. It may occur in children and in adults.
Symptoms may include:
Wheezing (a high-pitched sound made when breathing out)
Tight feeling in the chest, difficulty breathing, or attacks of coughing, especially at night
Attacks that may last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days
There is normally no fever
What your doctor can do:
Ask about your symptoms and perform a physical examination
Prescribe oral medications and inhaled medications to use when an attack occurs
Treatment will depend on the frequency and severity of attacks and other factors
What you can do:
Work closely with your doctor to determine the best combination of medications, which may change over time and vary widely from person to person
Triggers should be identified and eliminated or avoided if possible
If it is not possible to completely avoid exposure, try to plan for exposure (for example, by using an inhaler prior to exercise)
Change air conditioning and heating filters routinely
Avoid tobacco smoke.
Always keep asthma medicine close
Start medicine at the first sign (cough, itch, wheezing) of an attack
Work with your doctor to create an asthma action plan - this will tell you what actions to take (when to check peak flow, when to use which medications, when to contact your provider). Make sure that you have a copy of this plan, that you understand it, and that you follow it.
Seek immediate medical assistance for extreme shortness of breath, severe wheezing, if wheezing is no better after a 2nd dose of medicine; if unable to sleep or speak, lips or nails turn dusky or blue, chest or neck pain occurs