Asthma Program

The Asthma Program at the Mount Sinai National Jewish Health Respiratory Institute is committed to providing personalized, comprehensive management of asthma by incorporating the latest research and advanced treatments. Because asthma is a heterogeneous disorder with a variety of underlying mechanisms and clinical presentations, not all medications work the same for all patients. However, we will work tirelessly to find the right treatment plan to best fit your needs.

Our team of asthma specialists educate patients on proper care techniques, treatment of conditions that can complicate asthma, and support of overall health so that you can lead a full and active life.

Services We Offer

Our comprehensive program includes the following services:

  • Advanced diagnostic testing
  • Asthma education and inhaler training
  • Consultation with pulmonary specialist
  • Consultation with an allergy specialist
  • Coordination of treatment with all current advanced therapies for asthma including biological therapies and bronchial thermoplasty
  • Personalized self-management strategy
  • Environmental assessment
  • Referral to a gastroenterologist, otolaryngologist, occupational and environmental specialist, referral to mental health care resources, physical therapist and pulmonary rehabilitation, and social worker as needed

In addition, the Asthma Program collaborates with the Mount Sinai World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program to treat asthma in individuals who worked or volunteered at Ground Zero and other sites on 9/11.

We offer care for special forms of the condition, including:

  • Allergic asthma
  • Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis
  • Aspirin-sensitive asthma
  • Asthma in pregnancy
  • Asthma with fungal sensitization
  • Asthma worsened by sinonasal disease
  • Exercise-induced asthma
  • Severe eosinophilic asthma
  • Steroid dependent  asthma

Causes of Asthma

The causes of asthma can be due to environmental and/or genetic factors. Environmental factors that can trigger asthma symptoms include:

  • Animal dander
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pests (cockroaches, rodents)
  • Strong odors and fumes
  • Sudden changes in temperature or climate
  • Tree, grass, and weed pollen

In order for a person to experience symptoms of asthma, several processes must take place. First, there is inflammation in the inner linings of the airways. These airways experience swelling, resulting in less room for air to pass through. Second, the airway muscles tighten, thus causing the airways to close further. Airways produce mucus due to inflammation, which clogs the airways. Finally, the combination of inflammation, reactive airways, and mucus proliferation can be associated with structural changes in airways that can cause persistent limitation of airflow and reduced lung function

People can also experience an asthma from something they swallow rather than breathe. These triggers can include medications and foods:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and others)
  • Food allergies
  • Food preservatives like sulfites
  • Heart medications such as beta blockers (atenolol, Lopressor, carvedilol and others)

While most people develop asthma as children, adults can also develop asthma. People who work with the following products may be at increased risk of developing asthma:

  • Animals
  • Antibiotics
  • Construction material
  • Detergents
  • Domestic and non-domestic cleaners
  • Fabrics
  • Grains (such as wheat, barley, and corn)
  • Insulation
  • Packaging materials
  • Textile workers
  • Other work places with exposures to dusts or fumes

Asthma can also be triggered by non-allergic irritants, such as:

  • Exercise
  • Exposure to high heat and humidity
  • Laughing hard, crying, shouting, strong emotions
  • Smog and smoke
  • Strong smells (such as paint fumes, perfumes, cleaning products)
  • Sudden exposure to cold air
  • Viral infections such as a cold or the flu

Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma symptoms should be taken very seriously and treated immediately. Symptoms that awaken you at night or result in you needing rescue medication such as albuterol multiple times daily should prompt you to seek medical attention urgently.An asthma flare-up or attack can happen at any time. Mild symptoms may only occur for short periods of time, while more severe asthma symptoms can last hours or days.

  • Chest tightness
  • Excessive coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

Treatments for Asthma

Although there is no cure for asthma, your doctors at Mount Sinai can keep it under control. Since each asthma case is different, you and your specialist need to create a personalized asthma treatment plan. Your treatment plan may include some or all of the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (including steroids)
  • Bronchial thermoplasty
  • Bronchodilators
  • Immunotherapy
  • Inhalers
  • Nebulizers
  • Prednisone
  • Modifying your environment to reduce exposure to specific allergic and non-allergic triggers

The Mount Sinai – National Jewish Health Respiratory Institute is conducting a number of research studies and clinical trials to improve the diagnosis and treatment. Find available clinical trials

Why Mount Sinai

Our Asthma Program features pulmonologists and allergists with expertise in all aspects of asthma treatment. Our nurses provide education in how to use your inhaler.  We provide detailed testing to try guide you to minimize allergic and non-allergic triggers. We offer a variety of current injectable biological therapies (anti-IL5 , anti-IGE, anti-IL4 receptor, alpha, and others) for asthma via our infusion center for patients with asthma not controlled with standard inhaled therapy.

We offer additional testing including laryngoscopy and oropharyngeal pH probe testing to assess comorbid laryngopharyngeal reflux and other airway issues that may contribute to symptoms of cough, wheeze and breathlessness. We perform bronchoscopy to evaluate complicated asthma and offer bronchial thermoplasty for patient with asthma not controlled by other measures. We offer clinical trials for novel asthma therapies. Support for social issues complicating asthma are coordinated with our entire team including our social worker. Our asthma support group meets every six weeks in the practice.