Part of being a gallant asthmatic -- like you and me -- is keeping up on our asthma wisdom. That in mind, I've created an asthma lexicon for asthma termonology that often pop up in your questions or whenever you talk to your doctor:
Asthma gene: It is believed asthma is somehow linked to genetics. When people have asthma, something might have happened to "turn on" the genes that may cause the disease. Approximately 10% of Americans have this gene. Many asthma experts believe the age a person is when this gene is "turned on" determines whether one has childhood-onset or adult-onset asthma. Others think that for most people, the gene is "turned on" during the first few months of life, regardless of when one first has asthma symptoms.
Childhood-onset asthma: This is when a person first shows signs of asthma during childhood, or under the age of 18. Most common triggers of this are allergies, respiratory infections, and exercise-induced asthma.
Adult-onset asthma: This is when a person first shows signs of asthma during adulthood. One common trigger of this is gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. You many know that term more commly as simply heartburn or acid reflux.
Acute Asthma: This is shortness of breath due to narrowing of the air passages in your lungs that occurs suddenly. The most common way of treating this is with bronchodilators (known medically as short-acting bronchodilators or SABAs). People sometimes call these medicines "rescue inhalers." (see below).
Chronic asthma: This refers to the underlying inflammation that is always present in the lungs of asthmatics. The degree of this inflammation is what determines the severity of your asthma when exposed to your asthma triggers. The best way of treating this is with asthma controller medicines, which are most commonly inhaled steroids. (see below).
Twitchy airways: This usually occurs in children, who have smaller air passages than adults. It occurs when the air passages are very inflammed and thus extremely sensitive to asthma triggers. Asthmatics with twitchy airways are often referred to as Brittle Asthmatics.
Brittle Asthma: These asthmatics have severely inflammed air passages that are highly sensitive to triggers. Even the simplest exposure can set off a major attack. In most cases today, brittle asthma can be prevented by compliant use of your asthma controller medications. In some instances asthma is so severe that even controller medicines don't help as much as they should. I refer to these asthmatics as hardluck Asthmatics.
Airway remodeling: (Sometimes known as "lung scarring") These is irreversible changes that can occur in your lungs if your asthma is not diagnosed in a timely manner and treated appropriately and agressively. This can make asthma more difficult to control. This is one great reason why it is extremely important to see your doctor regularly and take your asthma medicines exactly as prescribed.