Exposure to certain irritants or allergens such as animals, chemicals, grasses, smoke, trees and weeds can cause the muscles surrounding the airway to spasm and cause narrowing of the bronchi or airways. This narrowing makes it hard to breathe air in and out.

Up to 80 percent of asthma patients have allergic triggers to their asthma, and more than 60 percent of allergy patients have symptoms of asthma or signs of asthma on breathing testing. Inhaling allergens such as dust mite droppings, mold, pet dander and pollen creates asthmatic symptoms. Airway obstruction, inflammation, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness are common symptoms.

Many people with asthma don’t realize they have it. Sometimes the symptoms creep up so gradually that the person isn’t aware of the changes in how they feel, or how they restrict their activity to avoid asthma symptoms – they just accept it as what’s normal for them.

Asthma Control

How well is your asthma controlled? 

Take the Asthma Control Test

It is a good idea to track how often you need your rescue inhaler and what you were doing just before you needed it. Bring your records with you to your next doctor visit. We’ll use it to try and track down any hidden asthma triggers you may have. You need to let us know if you are consistently requiring your rescue inhaler more than twice a week (not counting planned use before exercise) – this may mean you need stronger controller medication.

Print out this Asthma Tracking Sheet to make recording this information easier.


Spirometry, or pulmonary function testing, is a painless, noninvasive test that evaluates and measures how easily air moves in and out of your lungs simply by blowing into an instrument. It takes about 10 minutes to perform, and provides immediate results that can help to detect lung disease.

Spirometry is used to:

  • Assess treatment options like bronchodilator therapy and steroid treatment
  • Assess preoperative risk
  • Screen individuals at risk of having pulmonary diseases (e.g., smokers, occupational exposure)
  • Assess health status before enrollment in strenuous physical activity programs
  • Assess patients as part of a rehabilitation program
  • Assess risks as part of an insurance evaluation


Some asthma is mild, requiring only occasional use of a rescue inhaler (albuterol, ProAir, Xopenex). Some asthma is very severe, requiring an emergency room visit or an ICU admission. It can even cause death in extreme cases. The goal of asthma treatment is to give each asthma patient symptom-free days of normal activity, not restricted by asthma symptoms, on the least amount of medication possible.

Medications include symptom blockers like antihistamines, decongestants, inhalers to expand airways and decrease airway inflammation and injectables to prevent histamine production. Your doctor can help you decide which product is best for you.

Why Choose Ohio State

Expertise and training: We are a referral center for complex procedures because we perform them on a daily basis. As fellowship-trained specialists, all our physicians have extensive hands-on experience with treating the entire range of airway disorders, from routine to complex.

Comprehensive care: Our approach is a multidepartmental collaborative effort, involving various specialists from around our medical center.

Patient-centered: Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center is recognized for our outstanding patient service and satisfaction. 

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