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What is Severe Asthma?
Severe Asthma is a chronic illness that can affect many aspects of your life. If uncontrolled, exacerbations of the condition, or periods of worsening symptoms can greatly affect your quality of life and in some cases, can even become life-threatening.
Severe asthma is a chronic illness, characterised by increased airway inflammation or blockage. There may be more mucus inside the airways making it difficult for the air to go in and out. Tiny muscles that wrap around your airways can increase, causing more tightening of the airways and making your breathing harder, ultimately leading to a limited airflow.
How is Severe Asthma diagnosed?
Severe Asthma is considered to be severe when high doses of medication (oral and inhaled) are required or when it remains uncontrolled despite taking optimal therapy and addressing all modifying factors. A complete medical evaluation needs to be done before confirming a severe asthma diagnosis. It may take a while, to diagnose severe asthma as there are many underlying elements that can lead to a worsening of symptoms or your asthma being uncontrolled. Starting with a medical history and physical exam, your doctor may also order some of the following tests:
- Measuring Airway Irritability (Methacholine Challenge);
- Allergy Assessment;
- Blood Tests;
- Induced Sputum Test;
- Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide Test;
- CT-Scan (chest or sinuses); and/or
- Chest X-Ray
You may have had asthma for all or most of your life, but a diagnosis of severe asthma can change the way you regard your condition. Severe asthma can have an impact on your job, hobbies, and social relationships. You and your loved ones may worry that you can’t always control your symptoms. You may feel hopeless and afraid. These are common reactions.But remember, you are not alone and there are many ways in which you can learn about how to regain control of your life with severe asthma. You can discuss your concerns with your doctor or resource person. Patient support groups are a very helpful resource for gaining understanding of how to deal with the disease.
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