ZocdocAnswersCould my wheezing indicate asthma?

Question

Could my wheezing indicate asthma?

I am a 23 year old mother of two, in generally good health. However, a little over a year ago I started struggling with occasional wheezing spells. They seemed to begin as an allergic reaction to our pet chinchillas, and were serious enough to basically put me in bed for days. Now that our pets are out of the house, it is no longer a common problem, but since the initial episode or two, I seem to get bad wheezing spells every time I come down with a cold. Could this be some form of asthma?

Answer

Given your symptoms of occasionally wheezing under the stress of a viral respiratory infection or when exposed to allergens in the air, you may have some underlying reactive airways disease. Asthma is characterized by both hyperreactivity and inflammation of the small airways in the lungs. Asthma is typically a disease that begins in childhood and more rarely diagnosed thereafter. However, adults are occasionally diagnosed with reactive airways disease in the setting of exercise, exposure to the cold, or in the setting of respiratory infections; the end result of constriction and inflammation of the airways can be very similar to that seen in asthma. In these cases, the same types of medication used in asthma can be helpful, namely bronchodilators such as asthma. You should talk to your primary care physician regarding these symptoms; your lungs can be further investigated through pulmonary function testing to see if you might benefit from inhaled medications.

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