Doctors would say that asthma is "a chronic inflammatory lung disease". That is a complicated way of saying that the breathing tubes or passage in the lung are inflamed or irritated and this makes them overly sensitive. Breathing in dust or cold air can trigger a spasm of coughing or an attack of wheezing as the breathing passages tighten and narrow. These are abnormal airway responses to everyday exposures and the problem is one that doctors can usually control but not cure. Asthmatics may experience occasional or frequent episodes of shortness of breath depending on their sensitivity to irritants and environmental exposures.
Asthma is not limited to any age group or ethnicity. Anyone can develop asthma and while many cases arise in childhood, many people will have their first episode of asthma in adulthood.
shortness of breath
Doctors will suspect asthma in someone who is having recurrent symptoms that are suggestive. But recording symptoms and listening to the chest with a stethoscope are not enough to make the diagnosis of asthma confidently and asthma doesn't show up on chest x-rays. To confirming the diagnosis, doctors must use breathing tests that can measure tightness in the breathing passages and improvement after asthma medicine has been inhaled. The breathing test is called spirometry and is often a part fo the clinical trial process at Inspiration Research Ltd.
An asthma attack is a brief episode where a person experiences shortness of breath after being exposed to a trigger. [Note: a trigger is anything that causes irritation to the airways leading to an asthmatic episode]1. Asthma attacks may be caused by exercise, inhalation of irritants, cold or dry air, cigarette smoke, etc. Every individual has their own personal triggers.
An asthma exacerbation is the term that doctors usually reserve for a period of worsening asthma lasting more than a few hours. While the attack subsides in minutes or hours with simple treatment, the exacerbation may linger for days or weeks, especially if it's been provoked by a viral chest infections. Patients with asthma will often visit their doctors, a walk-in clinic or emergency department for extra treatment at such times. It's considered good practice to have an "action plan" in place ahead of time to allow early self-treatment.
Asthmatics are typically prescribed medication that will control their symptoms and prevent asthma exacerbations. Additionally, asthmatics are prescribed a quick relief inhaler (for example, Ventolin or salbutamol) that will provide relief of their symptoms in the event of an asthma attack. If the quick relief medication is needed frequently, a controller medication is usually prescribed. Controller medications may be dispensed in various forms, ranging from pills (ie. Singulair), to inhalers (ie. Advair, Flovent, Symbicort).
Despite the number of medications available, a substantial number of patients continue to have uncontrolled or poorly controlled asthma. At Inspiration Research Ltd, we work with all the leading pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies to examine the latest asthma therapies with patients. A vital part of that process is to conduct asthma studies to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of the new therapies.
Asthma studies vary in length, ranging from 6 months to 3 years. In each study, there are a set number of on-site study visits. We are located downtown Toronto, near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and College St. The duration of each visit depends on the number of procedures as stated by the study protocol. At the first study visit, the visit schedule and the duration of each visit will be provided to study participants. Re-imbursement is provided for out of pocket expenses, usually between $50 - $100, at the end of each visit.