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Asthma is a common breathing condition affecting over 26 million Americans. It affects your lungs and may make it hard to breathe. While there is no cure, managing asthma with the help of your doctor is important because severe symptoms can be life threatening.

Asthma symptoms can be mistaken for other conditions like problems with the heart, your GI tract, a different lung problem, or another body system. So you should see your primary care doctor first so he or she can evaluate your symptoms and decide which specialist(s) you need to see. Here are some signs you may have asthma:

1. Shortness of breath

If you experience times when breathing is difficult – like you can’t take in enough air, you likely should get tested for asthma. This even applies to when you work out. Exercise is a common asthma trigger, especially in young adults. Asthma triggered by exercise can begin right at the start of activity, during or after exercise. Your doctor will take a history and run some tests to better understand your lung function.

2. Chest tightness

Asthma may cause your airways to tighten, making you feel like you are unable to take a breath. However, chest tightness could also be a sign of cardiac problems.

3. Wheezing

This is a whistling or squeaky sound that comes from your lungs when you breathe.

4. Chronic cough

If you have a daily or nighttime cough that keeps you awake, you may have asthma.

Asthma may lead to a medical emergency, so it’s important to manage your condition and know how to treat an asthma attack.  If you have symptoms, consult your primary care doctor, who may recommend an appointment with an allergist. That specialist’s breathing tests can help evaluate whether you have asthma, identify your triggers and create a treatment plan for you.

UCF Health offers asthma testing and treatment from its Lake Nona and East Orlando offices.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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