Asthma Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about asthma.

How will pregnancy affect my asthma?
Pregnancy can cause changes in your asthma symptoms. About one-third of patients find their asthma gets worse during pregnancy. Another one-third of patients experience no change. The final third actually experience an improvement of their asthma during pregnancy.

Uncontrolled asthma can also affect the course of your pregnancy. Every pregnant patient with asthma should work closely with their obstetrician and an asthma specialist.

How does cigarette smoking affect asthma?
Smoking is never a good idea, but it is even more dangerous for people with asthma. Smoking can make your symptoms worse. It can also damage your lungs. Overall, smoking can lower the quality of life for people with asthma. If you smoke, it is extremely important that you make every effort to quit. Talk to your doctor about how we can support you.

Are there any medications I should avoid because of my asthma?
Some medications can trigger symptoms of wheezing, cough, or chest tightness. These include beta blockers (e.g., atenolol, Lopressor, Coreg, labetolol), aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen, Motrin, Aleve, and cholinergic stimulators such as pilocarpine.

It is important to remind your doctors that you have asthma whenever they prescribe new medication. You should also remind your doctor of your asthma if you are scheduled to undergo surgery or a procedure.

Can people with asthma have pets?
It depends on how they affect your symptoms. Pets such as cats, dogs, hamsters, and guinea pigs, can often trigger asthma by causing an allergic reaction. This is not only related to the fur, but also to skin, urine, and saliva. The allergic reaction may result in chest tightness, wheezing, cough, and even throat closure. The best way to control asthma triggered by animals is to avoid the animals you’re allergic to, including removing them from your home.

What is the relationship between exercise and asthma?
Symptoms brought on by asthma occur in up to 80 percent of patients with asthma. It may be a sign that your asthma is not controlled. Symptoms often do not start until after you have stopped exercising. They are usually worst 10 to 15 minutes after you finish exercise.

There are ways to reduce asthma symptoms brought on by exercise. These techniques include “warming up” prior to exercise and “cooling down” afterward. There are also medications you can take before exercising to reduce exercise-associated symptoms.

Patients with asthma should still exercise, as exercise is good for your overall health. We encourage you to discuss the role of regular exercise in asthma with your physician.

If you are over 40 years old, have other health conditions, or are overweight, you should speak with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Patients should tell their physician if they have shortness of breath or chest discomfort during exercise. These symptoms may be a sign of other health conditions, including heart disease.

Can diet influence asthma?
Yes. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with worsening asthma in some studies. Your doctor will let you know if you should be tested for vitamin deficiency and whether you would benefit from meeting with a nutritionist.

Obesity is a risk factor for asthma and can worsen asthma control. For those who are overweight, weight loss may help with asthma. If needed, our team will work with you to address issues related to weight and will refer you to experts who specialize in healthy weight loss strategies.

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