Module: Understanding Asthma
Expert Video - What is asthma?

In this video, Dr Sanjay Sethi and Dr Heather Lehman explain that asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by inflammation or swelling in the airways. The swelling can make it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, frequent coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. The doctors explain that if you have asthma, your airways are always inflamed even if you don’t notice any symptoms. Asthma is an underlying disease that should be managed on a daily basis and not just at times of an attack. Asthma is very treatable and by working closely with your doctor and taking asthma treatments you can keep your asthma well managed and have a good quality of life.

Expert Video - What causes asthma?

In this video, Dr Sanjay Sethi and Dr Heather Lehman discuss the causes of asthma, which can be very different for different people. They explain that people who have a family history of allergies or asthma might be more prone to developing asthma. They also talk about childhood asthma, allergic asthma, and occupational asthma where certain exposures act as triggers for asthma. While doctors can't always determine what causes asthma, they can recommend the best ways to help treat it.

Expert Video - What is an asthma attack? What can trigger an asthma attack?

In this video, the experts explain that an asthma attack is what happens when inflammation or swelling in the airways gets worse, leading to worsening asthma symptoms (more cough, more wheezing, more tightness of the chest, more shortness of breath). Asthma attacks can occur suddenly and can be mild, moderate, or severe. Asthma triggers vary from person to person. Common triggers discussed in this video include: allergies, emotional distress, smoking or second-hand smoke, strong odors, temperature changes, and viral respiratory illnesses. Asthma symptoms can also get worse during exercise, or when you have a cold or flu. Work with your doctor to identify what your triggers are, because avoiding those triggers is also a very important part of managing asthma.

Expert Video - How are allergies and asthma related?

In this video, Dr Sanjay Sethi and Dr Heather Lehman discuss the connection between allergies and asthma. The discussion includes allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis, and genetics. It is important to recognize the connection because if you have both allergies and asthma, then getting control of your allergies will help with your asthma care as well. Experts recommend that allergy testing be done for anyone with persistent asthma because it can help identify important triggers.

Module: Diagnosing Asthma
Expert Video - What breathing tests are used for asthma?

Experts in asthma explain the common breathing tests used for asthma diagnosis and monitoring, and how they work. The breathing tests (also called lung function tests or pulmonary function tests) measure many aspects related to breathing, including how air moves through the breathing tubes. The most commonly used test is known as spirometry which is a simple test that measures how much air you can blow out of your lungs and how quickly. The experts also discuss peak flow measurement, methacholine challenge test, and briefly talk about lung volume measurement (also called diffusion capacity measurement).

Expert Video - How is asthma diagnosed?

In this video, Dr Sanjay Sethi and Dr Heather Lehman explain that asthma diagnosis includes a detailed medical history, physical examination and lung function tests such as spirometry or peak flow. If more information is needed to make a diagnosis then other tests might include: imaging tests (x-ray), nitric oxide test, allergy tests, and methacholine challenge test.
Not everyone needs every asthma test, so talk to your doctor to find out what is best for you and to ensure no other medical problems are present.

Module: Treating and Managing Asthma
Expert Video - What are the treatment options for asthma?

In this video, experts in asthma discuss the two categories of asthma medication: quick-relief rescue medications and long-term controller medications. For rescue medications, they explain how short-acting bronchodilators (also called short-acting beta agonists) work within minutes to relax the airway muscles and relieve symptoms during an asthma attack. They also describe the main types of controller medications: long-acting bronchodilators (also called long-acting beta agonists) that prevent symptoms, and inhaled corticosteroids that treat underlying inflammation. The experts emphasize that controller medications should generally be taken daily to keep asthma under control and make it less likely to have an asthma attack. Each person's asthma is different, and the medication that your doctor prescribes will depend on many factors. Talk to your doctor to find out what is best for you.

Expert Video - What are the side effects of bronchodilator medications used for asthma?

In this video, asthma experts explain that the bronchodilators used to treat asthma today are considered safe, but like all medications there are some possible side effects. The side effects are uncommon when taken as prescribed, and include: trembling, increased heart rate or palpitations, and trouble sleeping. Children may be more active or agitated. As with any medication, you should never take more than you need. Always talk to your doctor about any possible side effects to look out for and how to deal with them.

Expert Video - What are the side effects of inhaled steroids used for asthma?

In this video, Dr Sanjay Sethi and Dr Heather Lehman explain that the inhaled corticosteroids used to treat asthma are considered safe, but as with any medication, there are possible side effects. The experts also explain the difference between taking steroids in pill versus inhaler format. Inhaled steroids have few side effects, especially at lower doses. A few people may get thrush or hoarseness, which can be relieved by rinsing or gargling after taking the inhaler medication. Always talk to your doctor about any possible side effects to look out for and how to deal with them.

Expert Video - What is an asthma action plan?

In this video, Dr Sanjay Sethi and Dr Heather Lehman explain what an asthma action plan is. An asthma action plan is a written plan that outlines how to manage your asthma on a daily basis and what to do when your asthma is at various levels of control - green zone, yellow zone, and red zone. An asthma action plan should include: instructions on how to monitor your asthma and recognize if it’s worsening; a list of your asthma triggers and how to avoid them; instructions for your medications and when to adjust dosing based on your symptoms; and how to deal with an asthma attack or emergency.