WHAT IS ASTHMA?
Asthma is a lung disease caused by inflammation of the airways of the lungs.
Asthma can be life threatening. Although adult asthma cannot be cured, it can be controlled with appropriate treatment and preventive medication.
Adult asthma is chronic. Asthma can cause sudden shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing, which are called asthma attacks or episodes of asthma. During an attack, the lungs’ airways narrow and mucus in the airway increases.
Attacks can be severe, moderate, or mild, and are often triggered by irritants to which a person is allergic.
Common asthma triggers include:
- Allergic reactions to pollen, mold, animal hair, or dust;
- Sudden temperature changes;
- Viral infections and colds.
DO I NEED ASTHMA MEDICATION?
You need medication to control your asthma symptoms if:
- Your symptoms have needed emergency room treatment;
- You experience shortness of breath more than twice a week;
- Your symptoms wake you up at night;
- Physical activities induce your asthma symptoms.
WHAT ARE MY TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Anti-inflammatory asthma medication can help most adult asthma patients reduce their symptoms, if taken on a regular basis. Inhalers are the most common way to take asthma medication, but oral steroids are sometimes appropriate for cases of mild asthma.
Bronchodilators are asthma medications that relax muscles that have tightened around the patient’s airways. The muscles relax and give the airways more room for airflow. Mucous can also then move more easily. Some bronchodilators act quickly and others act over a longer period of time. These medications are often prescribed in addition to inhaled steroids. It is important to discuss with your doctor the difference between maintenance inhalers to control your asthma and rescue inhalers that can be used during asthma attacks.
Allergy shots can help reduce sensitivity to allergy triggers, if taken regularly.
Barnes-Jewish Hospital has developed a new program for adult asthma patients who make frequent trips to the hospital or emergency room with asthma-related problems. With permission from their primary care physician, patients are paired with a nurse coordinator who works closely with them and their physician on asthma management. The nurse coordinator continues the program with follow-up home visits and telephone calls.
Our Asthma Center
Barnes-Jewish Hospital maintains one of the leading, comprehensive asthma research centers in the country. Our asthma research program is one of just 11 centers in the U.S. seeking the causes of asthma and developing new treatments. In addition, we offer the Community Asthma Program, where work is being done to improve asthma care.
We offer two patient care locations: the Jacqueline Maritz Lung Center at the Center for Advanced Medicine and the Asthma Center in West County.
The Jacqueline Maritz Lung Center is staffed by a team of pulmonary and allergy specialists, assisted by asthma nurse specialists and allergy technicians. This team evaluates patients using the latest equipment for pulmonary function testing and allergy skin testing. Our Lung Center physicians use the latest medications, drugs and procedures currently in clinical trial. Asthma education, self-management techniques and environmental control measures are key components of the program.
The Asthma Center is a 4,500-square-foot facility located at Mason Road and Olive Boulevard in west St. Louis County. Established in 1989, the center is staffed by full-time faculty from the pulmonary and allergy divisions, plus nurse specialists, a social worker and a speech therapist. These staff members work closely with a patient’s primary care physician on every aspect of care.
Jacqueline Maritz Lung Center
4921 Parkview, 8th Floor
St. Louis, Mo 63110
ASTHMA SUPPORT GROUPS
Learn more about Inhale, our free support group, here.
To make an appointment with a lung specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 314-TOP-DOCS (314-867-3627) or toll free 1-866-867-3627.