by Sam Samalin, PA-C

If you cough and feel short of breath, you may have asthma. Stop by the clinic to see if you need an inhaler such as Proair, or if you are using your inhaler too often, more asthma medicine.

Asthma is when your lung passages constrict and you can’t exhale so you wheeze. Usually you cough or feel your chest is tight. When you’re having breathing difficulties you need your inhaler, a device containing medicine that relaxes your lung passages. Use your inhaler only when you need it, but if you need it more than two or three times a week, you need to stay on more medicine to lessen your need for rescue inhaler.

Start with an inhaled steroid such as Flovent and increase — if needed — to a combination such as Advair if necessary. If you are having difficulty breathing, come to the clinic for a breathing treatment — which is inhaler medicine given by a nebulizer. We also can give you a steroid injection. These usually work, and we can order you a home nebulizer if you are severely asthmatic.

Asthma people often have chronic allergies, so staying on Claritin and Flonase will help prevent attacks. Asthma can be an emergency, or even a fatal event, which good asthma control will help prevent. Many people use their inhaler every day to control their cough but this is incorrect; one should only use Flovent or Advair every day, and use Proair only when you need it. Some people have exertional asthma: it acts up when they exercise, and they should take their inhaler before they exercise.

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