How We Can Help
Wheezing Treatment Information
We work with you to diagnose and manage your asthma using a comprehensive treatment plan. We may use the following services to treat your asthma:
- Lung spirometry. Lung spirometry is a safe test that measures your lung function, which can be reduced by asthma. During this test, you breathe into a tube that is attached to a spirometer. The spirometer measures how much air you breathe in and out, as well as how fast you can breathe. Our physicians use these measurements to determine if you may have asthma.
- Bronchoprovocation test. To diagnose your asthma, you may also take a bronchoprovocation test. First you breathe into a spirometer so we can measure your normal lung function. Next, you are exposed to asthma triggers such as a safe chemical or exercise and breathe into a spirometer again. If there is a difference in your spirometry measurements, you likely have asthma.
- Asthma medicines. You need multiple medicines to safely manage asthma. You take two different types of medicines, long-term medicines and short-term or rescue medicines.
- Corticosteroids, bronchodilators and leukotriene modifiers are long-term medicines that reduce symptoms of asthma. They all work to relax the muscles around your airways or control airway swelling. In most cases, you take these medications through an inhaler though in some cases you may take pills.
- You take short-term medications before you are exposed to an asthma trigger or during an asthma attack through an inhaler. The medicines stop or prevent your attack by allowing you to breathe normal. Medicines include short-active beta 2 antagonists, which relax the muscles around your airways quickly, or anticholinergics, which block a chemical that causes asthma attacks.
- In many cases, allergies trigger asthma attacks and may require additional asthma treatments. If you have severe, uncontrolled allergies, you may also receive anti-immunoglobulin E (anti-IgE) injections in your physician’s office. IgE is a substance in your blood that starts allergic reactions. By receiving Anti-IgE injections every two to four weeks, you can keep IgE from causing allergic reactions and prevent allergic asthma attacks.
- Allergy skin testing. Controlling allergies is necessary to manage allergic asthma. The first step in controlling allergies is determining what you are allergic to so it can be avoided in the future. During skin testing, we prick your skin to expose you to a small amount of allergen. If that area becomes red and swollen, we know you are allergic to that substance. Skin testing is a quick, safe way to identify allergens.
- Allergy blood testing. If you have severe asthma, skin testing may not be safe enough for you. Instead, we determine what you are allergic by taking a blood sample and sending it to a lab. The lab examines your blood for the presence of antibodies, which are immune cells that fight off allergens and infections. Because each antibody is created uniquely for whatever infection or allergen it is fighting, we can identify what you are allergic to by identifying the antibody. Blood testing is safer than skin testing, but may take longer to complete.
- Allergy medicines. For the best control of allergic asthma, you also take allergy medicines to reduce the number of asthma attacks you experience. Allergy medicines are available by prescription or over-the-counter.
- Antihistamines keep your body from producing a substance called histamine. Histamine makes your airways swell when you are exposed to allergens, making it difficult to breathe. Antihistamines are taken in pill form once or twice daily and are often available over-the-counter.
- To reduce swelling in your airways, you may also take corticosteroids through inhalers, nasal sprays or pills. Corticosteroids require a prescription because they have an increased risk of side effects such as weight gain and high blood pressure. Take corticosteroids exactly how your physician prescribes.
- Education. We teach you how to avoid allergy and asthma triggers in your environment to reduce the number of asthma attacks. Certain products or daily habits can go a long way in limiting your exposure, though not all allergens can be avoided. We also teach you how and when to use your medicines to control asthma attacks.
- Referral to specialists. Though wheezing is most often caused by asthma, it may also have other causes that need managed. If asthma is not the cause of your wheezing, we refer you to other IU Health experts to diagnose your condition. IU Health Respiratory & Pulmonology physicians offer diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases associated with wheezing as well as extra support for patients with severe asthma. IU Health pulmonologists provide high-quality care backed by the nationally ranked pulmonology services at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis by the U.S. News & World Report.
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Wheezing Support Services
Learn more about the causes of wheezing and asthma symptoms by visiting the websites below.
A Sampling of Wheezing Support Services
The National Institute of Health describes wheezing, its causes and its treatments.
American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology
The AAAAI website discusses asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, and how asthma is managed.