Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the bronchial tubes of the lungs that leads to narrowing of airways, difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. Asthma is the most common chronic lung disease, affecting over eight percent of children in the U.S. and causing almost 4,000 deaths per year.
Asthma can be diagnosed by examining a patient’s history and performing a physical exam. In-office pulmonary function testing can assist with the diagnosis and help determine the severity of the disease. Allergy is the most common precipitant of asthma, and sixty percent of adults and eighty percent of children’s symptoms are triggered by exposure to an environmental allergen. Allergy immunotherapy can be an effective tool to reduce hypersensitivity to environmental allergens.
Early treatment and control of asthma is important, as uncontrolled disease can lead to irreversible damage of the lungs and lifelong breathing problems. Asthma has traditionally been treated with a combination of inhaled steroids and bronchodilators (inhalers), and more persistent cases can be managed with the addition of leukotriene inhibitors such as Singulair. Biologic therapy is the newest option for treatment of severe asthma. These medications, including Xolair and Dupixent, are injections of antibodies that block specific communication molecules within the immune system.