Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., M.D.
Pulmonologist & Sleep Specialist located in Las Vegas, NV
Many patients are surprised to learn that asthma can begin in their adult years, but it’s possible to have your first attack at any age. Whether you’ve had your asthma since childhood or just experienced your first symptom, Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., MD, offers comprehensive and individualized care, including a thorough lung evaluation conveniently performed in the comfort of the office. If you have shortness of breath or chest tightness, call the office in Las Vegas or schedule an appointment using the online booking feature.
Asthma Q & A
What causes asthma?
Asthma develops when the airways inside your lungs become irritated and inflamed. As a result, three changes occur:
- Mucus is produced
- Airways become swollen
- Muscles that line the airways tighten
These three changes make it hard to breathe, and an asthma attack begins. When you have asthma, your airways remain sensitive and inflamed, so any time you’re exposed to a trigger, you can quickly have another asthma flare-up.
What triggers an asthma attack?
There are many possible asthma triggers, but each patient can usually identify a few that irritate their airways. If you have allergies, there’s a good chance your allergens will also trigger your asthma. Even patients who don’t have allergies often find that common allergens cause their asthma flare-ups.
Here are a few examples of common triggers:
- Cold air
- Tobacco smoke
- Air pollution
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Strong odors (perfumes, chemicals, cleaning products)
Asthma also frequently flares up shortly after you begin to exercise. This condition is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.
What symptoms develop due to asthma?
Asthma causes a cluster of symptoms. You may not have all of them at the same time, or one specific symptom in the group may be more severe than the others:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain, tightness, or pressure
If you have a chronic cough but none of the other symptoms, you could have cough-variant asthma (CVA). CVA is triggered by similar, but milder, changes in your airways. About 30-40% of adults with CVA eventually develop full-blown asthma.
How is asthma treated?
The first step is to diagnose your asthma and assess the function of your lungs. Dr. Willoughby’s office is equipped with the latest pulmonary function testing technology, so all your asthma care is done during the same appointment.
If you have allergies, receiving immunotherapy to develop resistance to your allergens will also help prevent asthma flare-ups. Medical care for asthma includes:
Quick relief during an asthma attack is delivered using a nebulizer. This small device turns medication into a fine mist so you can inhale the treatment, allowing the medication to rapidly open your airways so you can breathe. You can also use an inhaler to breathe in your quick-relief medications.
Long-term asthma control medications
Dr. Willoughby may prescribe one of several oral medications that you can take every day to reduce inflammation in your airways, control your asthma symptoms, and prevent asthma flare-ups.
If you have shortness of breath or coughing, call Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., MD, or book an appointment online.