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When you think of a wheezing, can’t-catch-your-breath asthma attack like you see in the movies, the disease seems clear cut, but many people with mild to moderate asthma may go undiagnosed for years.
“Asthma can vary in severity from a nagging cough to life-threatening shortness of breath,” says David Myers, MD, a pulmonologist on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. “Sometimes kids get it but grow out of it, and adults can develop it as well. It’s one of those diseases that waxes and wanes.”
Asthma tends to run in families. A child who has one parent with the disease has a 25 percent chance of developing it. If both parents have asthma, the child’s odds jump to 50 percent.
If you notice a persistent cough, a sensation of tightness in the chest, wheezing or what seems like a respiratory infection that doesn’t go away, talk to your doctor to see if it might be asthma. He or she can likely diagnose the disease based on your symptoms, and might want to test your lung function to determine how badly your airflow is impaired. It’s important to have your symptoms checked out, since untreated asthma can turn into chronic obstructive asthma, which may be irreversible.
If your doctor determines you have asthma, there are a few things you can do to help keep it well-controlled:
“The idea with asthma is that there shouldn’t be any limitations on activities or lifestyle,” Dr. Myers says.
For a referral to a pulmonologist on the medical staff at Baylor Plano, call 1.800.4BAYLOR or visit FindDrRight.com.
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