Asthma

  • Medical Author:
    Syed Shahzad Mustafa, MD

    After growing up in the Rochester area, Dr. Mustafa pursued his undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and attended medical school at SUNY Buffalo. He then completed his internal medicine training at the University of Colorado and stayed in Denver to complete his fellowship training in allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Colorado, National Jewish Health, and Children's Hospital of Denver.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Quick GuideAsthma Myths Pictures Slideshow

Asthma Myths Pictures Slideshow

What is an asthma action plan?

Patient education is a critical component in the successful management of asthma. An asthma action plan provides an individual with specific directions for daily management of their asthma and for adjusting medications in response to increasing symptoms or decreasing lung function, as usually measured by a peak flow meter.

What is the prognosis for asthma?

The prognosis for asthma is generally favorable. Children experience complete remission more often than adults. Although adults with asthma experience a greater rate of loss in their lung function as compared to age-controlled counterparts, this decline is usually not as severe as seen in other conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema. Asthma in the absence of other comorbidities does not appear to shorten life expectancy. Risk factors for poor prognosis from asthma include

  • a history of hospitalizations, especially ICU admissions or intubation,
  • frequent reliance on systemic steroids,
  • significant medical comorbidities.

Can asthma be prevented?

With the increasing prevalence of asthma, numerous studies have looked for risk factors and ways to potentially prevent asthma. It has been shown that individuals living on farms are protected against wheezing, asthma, and even environmental allergies. The role of air pollution has been questioned in both the increased incidence of asthma and in regards to asthma exacerbations.

Climate change is also being studied as a factor in the increased incidence of asthma. Maternal smoking during pregnancy is a risk factor for asthma and poor outcomes. Tobacco smoke is also a significant risk factor for the development and progression of asthma. The development of asthma is ultimately a complex process influenced by many environmental and genetic factors, and currently there is no proven way to decrease an individual's risk of developing asthma.

Medically reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

REFERENCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Vital signs: asthma prevalence, disease characteristics, and self-management education: United States, 2001--2009." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60.17 (2011): 547-552.

National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. "Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma." 2007.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/8/2016
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