Uncontrolled Asthma: What you need to know
Table of contents
Asthma, a chronic lung disease, makes it difficult to move air in and out of your lungs and becomes a potentially serious or life-threatening disease if not controlled. If you have asthma, you live with it every day. Although there isn't yet a scientifically-known cure for asthma, early diagnosis and the right treatment program can help manage your asthma, allowing you to live a healthy, active life.*
What is uncontrolled asthma?
With the right treatment plan, patients with asthma generally live normal lives with minimal asthma symptoms. However, some patients may not respond to certain medications, are non-compliant with treatment, or haven’t found the right treatment for their asthma. These patients have asthma that isn’t controlled.
According to the American Lung Association, the frequency of asthma symptoms often diagnoses uncontrolled asthma. For example, if you cough, feel shortness of breath or chest tightness, wake up at night with asthma symptoms twice or more per week, or use your rescue inhaler often, your asthma could be uncontrolled.*
The consequences of uncontrolled asthma
Research shows that when asthma isn't well-controlled, patients experience an increased risk of asthma exacerbations, loss of pulmonary function, a higher risk of mortality, and experience functional limitations.*
In addition, research shows that poor asthma control relates to a worse COVID-19 prognosis. The COVID-19 virus is characterized by causing multiple-system organ failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and lung damage. Asthma, an airway inflammation lung disease, consists of a poor antiviral immune response, which means that COVID-19 could induce asthma exacerbations.*
Asthma doesn't only attack adults. An estimated 6 million children in the United States have asthma.* Children with asthma are more prone to obesity, pneumonia, learning disabilities, pulmonary infections, and declined cardiovascular fitness when asthma remains not well controlled.*
Although a chronic condition, asthma shouldn't interfere with everyday life, and if it does, working with your healthcare provider to adjust your treatment plan can help get your asthma under control.
Early diagnosis and intervention are the keys to success
Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to living optimally with asthma. Once diagnosed with asthma, your healthcare practitioner can begin developing your treatment, including identifying and avoiding asthma triggers and inhaled medications, such as corticosteroids. Your treatment plan aims to reduce airway inflammation, respiratory symptoms, and asthma exacerbations and improve your lung function and quality of life.
Spirometry for asthma
Spirometry is usually the go-to test for diagnosing and monitoring asthma. National Asthma Education recommends that anyone ages five and older with suspected asthma undergo a baseline spirometry test.*
Simply put, spirometry is a lung test that measures the amount of air you can breathe in and out of your lungs and how easy and fast you can do it. You'll likely have a "pre and post" spirometry test to diagnose asthma, meaning you'll have the test before and after an inhaled bronchodilator. A bronchodilator helps open up your airways, improving airflow in and out of your lungs. Spirometry testing after inhaling a bronchodilator shows your response to that medication.
After completing your baseline spirometry test, National Asthma Education recommends that you repeat the test every one to two years to monitor any potential disease progression and maintain the best possible treatment regimen.
Additional lung function tests, such diffusion capacity testing (DLCO), may also be beneficial when diagnosing asthma.
Spirometry tests are painless and generally performed by a respiratory therapist or pulmonary function technician and play a crucial role in the early diagnosis of asthma.
Click here to learn more about spirometry.