Whether you have been diagnosed with asthma or think you might have asthma symptoms without a formal diagnosis, an ENT can be an excellent resource for getting an accurate diagnosis and determining a proper treatment plan.
Having an ear, nose, and throat specialist on your care team not only helps with managing your current symptoms but also prevents triggers and flareups in the future.
Ear, nose, and throat doctors (ENTs) or otolaryngologists specialize in health conditions affecting the upper respiratory system, including the ears, nose, and throat, as well as any other disorders affecting the neck or head.
Asthma: Symptom and Risk Factors
Asthma is a breathing problem that requires specialized medical care for symptom management and treatment.
When a patient has asthma, environmental exposures and specific activities often cause the chronic condition to worsen. For example, someone with asthma might find their symptoms flare up when exercising or spending time around second-hand smoke or dust.
These exposures cause swelling in the airways, resulting in a constriction that makes it harder to breathe. Then, asthma symptoms are present:
- Shortness of breath
- Noisy breathing
- Chest tightness
There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of an asthma diagnosis:
- Family History: Having a parent with asthma increases the likelihood of an asthma diagnosis by 3 – 6 times.
- Allergies: Allergic triggers can be a problem for people with asthma. When exposure occurs, it causes more inflammation and swelling that affects asthma symptoms.
- Respiratory Infections: When you get sick with a viral condition, it can trigger asthma symptoms. For example, children with asthma have a higher risk of wheezing when they have a head cold or the flu. Then, these symptoms can continue to result in chronic asthma.
- Smoking: If you smoke or are around other people who smoke, there is a higher risk of asthma because of how the smoke irritates the airways.
- Workplace Exposures: People who work in environments with exposure to irritants have a higher risk of asthma. Common workplace triggers include wood dust, chemical vapors or fumes, and mold.
- Pollution: Air pollution can make asthma symptoms worse. People in urban areas are more exposed to pollution, which can increase the likelihood of asthma compared to people in more rural living environments.
- Obesity: When a person is overweight, there is a higher risk of asthma. Doctors are still trying to understand the connection between obesity and asthma, but it could be due to the low-grade inflammation in the body that happens with extra weight.
Benefits of Visiting an ENT for Asthma Care
While a primary care physician or general medical provider can offer basic asthma treatments, they don’t have the same level of expertise you can access through a skilled ENT.
Visiting an ENT specialist improves the level of care you receive and helps optimize possible outcomes. Often, ENTs partner with other specialists who also treat asthma, including pulmonologists and allergists.
Patients can receive the best care when a team of doctors works together to complete necessary testing, determine an accurate diagnosis, and refine a treatment plan.
Not only does an ENT help patients manage their asthma symptoms, but they also look at other ENT conditions that coincide with asthma and could trigger flareups, such as chronic rhinosinusitis, allergic rhinitis, and GERD.
These conditions can impact the airways, which worsens asthma symptoms. So, treating other ENT conditions is often an essential part of asthma management.
Diagnosis Process for Asthma
The most common response when a patient has asthma symptoms is to talk to their primary care physician or go to the emergency room if breathing is difficult. However, if you or a loved one is having trouble breathing, it’s essential to seek medical support as soon as possible.
Talking to a doctor is an important step in determining if you are experiencing asthma or if another condition is causing the symptoms.
An ENT might recommend that you complete pulmonary function tests to see how well your lungs are working. These tests can also be helpful in determining how the lungs respond to the use of inhalers. In addition, the right medication can help to open up the airways and reduce symptoms.
It’s common to use chest x-rays to closely examine the lungs, heart, and air passageways. In addition, X-rays provide fast and easy digital images that doctors can use to assist in the diagnosis process.
Treatment Options for Asthma
Asthma treatments focus on decreasing the swelling and inflammation in the lungs. A typical treatment starts with the use of a prescription inhaler. This small handheld device delivers medication into your airways – you simply activate the inhaler while breathing in.
Your ENT will determine the correct type of inhaler. For example, some inhalers use steroids that work to decrease lung inflammation. Other inhalers are designed with medications that target the muscles that open the airways.
Depending on the type of inhaler you are prescribed, you might need to use the inhaler daily as a preventive treatment. Or, some inhalers are designed to provide quick relief as a “rescue” treatment when asthma symptoms flare up.
If you find that inhalers don’t control the symptoms completely, then your ENT might recommend oral prescription medications. These medications target specific underlying conditions, such as fighting an infection, reducing inflammation, or opening the passages to the lungs.
Avoiding Asthma Triggers
Not only will your ENT help you find the ideal medical treatment for your asthma symptoms, but it’s also important to take a proactive approach to minimize triggers.
Allergens and other environmental exposures can cause asthma symptoms to worsen. So, avoiding these triggers is essential to reducing your symptoms and minimizing your reliance on an inhaler or other type of medication.
Pay attention to your breathing issues and identify if any factors worsen your asthma. Some people keep a symptom journal and write down things that cause these symptoms to flare. Examples of asthma triggers include cold air, pollen, or dust in the house.
Talk to an ENT for an Asthma Diagnosis and Treatment
If you think that you have asthma, then it’s time to talk to an ENT about your treatment options. Working with a specialist is a great way to get results as quickly as possible and improve the long-term outlook.
Collin County ENT in Frisco, TX
Are you searching for an ENT who is located in the Dallas or Collin County areas? Reach out to our experienced team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat. We have several convenient offices located in Plano or Frisco, TX. Reach out for a meeting by filling out our online form, or call us at your convenience: (972) 596-4005.