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There is an old proverb that states, "Life is in the breath. He who half breathes half lives."
If you have allergies, asthma, or other breathing problems, this proverb may sound very familiar. But a greater understanding of your breathing problems, along with an accurate medical diagnosis and effective treatment, can help you regain control. It doesn't matter what type of breathing problem you have
There are many causes of breathing problems. Some people have difficulty breathing when they get a cold. Others have trouble breathing because of occasional bouts of acute sinusitis. Sinusitis can make it difficult to breathe through your nose for a week or two until the inflammation subsides and the congested sinuses begin to drain.
Many breathing problems are chronic or long-term. These common breathing problems include chronic sinusitis, allergies, and asthma. These problems can cause a host of symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, chest congestion, cough, wheezing, labored breathing, and shallow breathing.
The nasal passage is a pathway for viruses and allergens to enter your lungs. So the nose and sinuses are often associated with many lung disorders. A sinus or nasal passage inflammation may trigger reflexes and cause asthma attacks. And the No. 1 trigger for asthma is allergies.
More than 50 million Americans have hay fever or other allergies. And 17 million Americans have asthma. Oftentimes, asthma and allergies occur together. When they do, they can make life miserable if left untreated.
Millions of Americans have breathing problems because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Breathing problems may also stem from other serious problems such as lung cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and lung disease related to HIV/AIDS.
Doctors diagnose breathing problems by performing a physical exam, taking a patient history and family health history, and using different tests. For instance, pulmonary function tests, also known as lung function tests, are frequently used to assess lung function in people with asthma. These tests include spirometry and a test known as methacholine challenge.
Allergy tests may help your doctor identify the cause of your breathing problems. There are several types of allergy tests your doctor might use. One of them is the prick technique. In this test, the doctor first puts a tiny drop of allergen on your skin. Then the doctor makes a puncture with a needle directly in the drop of allergen extract. If you are allergic to the specific allergen, your body will react to it by turning red at the site. You may also experience itching and swelling at the site of the allergen placement.
Another type of skin test involves your doctor injecting the allergen extract directly under the skin using a syringe. Other allergy tests include:
These tests are used less frequently than the skin testing.
After performing allergy tests, your doctor may know what's triggering your breathing problems. Then the doctor will be able to treat yourallergy symptoms more effectively.
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