Managing Asthma and Respiratory Infections: A Guide to Symptoms and Treatments

asthma specialist in New York

Living with asthma can be challenging, especially when respiratory infections occur. However, understanding their connection is the first step toward effective management and a better quality of life. To enhance your understanding, here’s an overview of both conditions and some practical tips on preventing and managing symptoms so you can breathe easier and enjoy a healthier life.

Understanding Asthma

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows your airways, making it difficult to breathe. This inflammation can be triggered by various factors, including allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and irritants like smoke and air pollution. Certain respiratory infections can also trigger asthma symptoms or make them worse, so making a trip to an asthma specialist in New York is necessary.

Symptoms of Asthma

Recognizing the signs of asthma is essential for effective management. You might want to seek the advice of an asthma specialist in New York if you experience:

  • Shortness of breath: This is a hallmark symptom of asthma, often described as feeling like you can’t catch your breath, no matter how deeply you inhale. It can occur during physical activity, while resting, or even when you’re sleeping.
  • Wheezing: A telltale sign of asthma, wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound that happens when you breathe out. It’s caused by narrowed airways and can vary in intensity depending on the severity of your asthma.
  • Coughing: While coughing is a common symptom of many conditions, asthma is often persistent and tends to worsen at night or early in the morning. This cough may be dry or productive, producing mucus or phlegm.
  • Chest tightness: This feeling can range from mild discomfort to intense pressure or pain in your chest. It’s often described as a squeezing sensation that makes it difficult to take a full breath.

Types of Asthma

Asthma comes in various forms, each with its own unique set of triggers and management strategies. Understanding the different types of asthma can help you identify your specific triggers and tailor your treatment plan accordingly.

  • Allergic Asthma: This is the most common type of asthma, triggered by allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold. When you come into contact with these allergens, your immune system reacts by causing inflammation in your airways, leading to asthma symptoms.
  • Non-Allergic Asthma: Unlike allergic asthma, non-allergic asthma isn’t triggered by allergens. Instead, it can be triggered by various factors, including respiratory infections, exercise, cold air, stress, smoke, and certain medications. Identifying these triggers is crucial for managing this type of asthma effectively.
  • Exercise-Induced Asthma: If you experience wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath during or after physical activity, you may have exercise-induced asthma. This type of asthma is often triggered by vigorous exercise or exposure to cold, dry air during workouts.
  • Occupational Asthma: This type of asthma is caused by exposure to certain substances in the workplace, such as chemicals, dust, or fumes. If you notice that your asthma symptoms worsen at work or improve when you’re away from your job, occupational asthma may be the culprit.

Understanding Respiratory Infections

What are Respiratory Infections?

Respiratory infections are illnesses that affect the respiratory system, which includes the nose, throat, airways, and lungs. They can be caused by viruses (like the common cold and flu), bacteria (like bronchitis and pneumonia), or other germs.

Symptoms of Respiratory Infections

The symptoms of respiratory infections vary depending on the type and severity, but common signs include:

  • Cough: This is one of the most common symptoms of a respiratory infection, and it can range from a mild, dry cough to a persistent, hacking cough that produces phlegm or mucus.
  • Fever: A fever is your body’s way of fighting off infection. The presence of a fever, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like chills or body aches, can indicate a respiratory infection.
  • Sore throat: This is another frequent symptom, often described as pain or scratchiness in the throat. It may be worse when you swallow and can be accompanied by hoarseness or difficulty speaking.
  • Congestion: Nasal congestion, characterized by a stuffy nose or a feeling of fullness in your sinuses, is a hallmark symptom of many respiratory infections. It’s often accompanied by a runny nose, sneezing, and difficulty breathing through your nose.
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired and run down is a common symptom of respiratory infections. This fatigue can be caused by your body’s efforts to fight off the infection, as well as the discomfort caused by other symptoms like fever, cough, and congestion.

If you have any concerns about your symptoms, it’s always best to consult Kamelhar Pulmonology for a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

The Link Between Asthma and Respiratory Infections

How Respiratory Infections Affect Asthma

If you have asthma, respiratory infections can be particularly troublesome. They can increase your risk of asthma attacks and worsen your existing asthma symptoms. The inflammation caused by the infection can further irritate your airways, leading to more difficulty breathing and other complications.

Preventative Measures

To minimize the impact of respiratory infections on your asthma, it’s important to take preventative measures. This includes:

  • Vaccinations: Get your annual flu shot, COVID-19 and pneumococcal vaccine to protect against common respiratory infections.
  • Good hygiene practices: Wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with sick individuals, and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

Managing Asthma Symptoms

Long-term Control Medications

Managing asthma effectively often involves a combination of medications, particularly those designed for long-term control. Inhaled corticosteroids are the cornerstone of treatment by asthma specialists in New York, working to reduce inflammation in the airways and make them less sensitive to triggers. Long-acting beta agonists (LABAs) are another key player, relaxing the muscles around the airways to ease breathing. In some cases, leukotriene modifiers may also be prescribed. These oral medications block the action of leukotrienes, inflammatory substances that contribute to asthma symptoms. These medications help prevent asthma attacks, reduce symptoms, and improve overall lung function.

Quick-relief Medications

In addition to medications for daily management, quick-relief medications are essential for those moments when asthma symptoms flare up unexpectedly. Short-acting beta agonists (SABAs) are the go-to rescue inhalers for many, as they work rapidly to relax the tightened muscles around the airways, providing swift relief from wheezing and shortness of breath. Another option is anticholinergics, which act by blocking a neurotransmitter that triggers airway constriction, thus helping to open up the airways and ease breathing. These quick-relief medications are crucial for managing sudden asthma attacks and minimizing their impact on your daily life.

Asthma Action Plan

An asthma action plan is a personalized guide that outlines steps to take based on your symptoms and peak flow readings. It’s a necessary tool for managing asthma effectively and knowing when to seek medical help with an asthma specialist in New York.

Treating Respiratory Infections

Over-the-Counter Medications

For mild respiratory infections, over-the-counter medications can provide relief:

  • Pain relievers: Reduce fever and relieve aches and pains.
  • Decongestants: Relieve nasal congestion.
  • Cough suppressants: Reduce the frequency and severity of coughs.

Prescription Medications

While over-the-counter medications can be helpful for managing mild respiratory infections, sometimes you may need stronger medicine to combat more severe or persistent cases. Prescription medications are designed to target specific types of infections and provide more potent relief.

Antibiotics are important for treating bacterial infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia. These medications kill the bacteria or prevent them from multiplying, allowing your body’s immune system to take over and clear the infection.

Antivirals, on the other hand, are used to treat specific viral infections like the flu. While many viral infections resolve on their own with rest and fluids, antivirals can help shorten the duration of the illness and reduce the severity of symptoms, especially in high-risk individuals.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Adjustments

In addition to medications, there are several things you can do at home to manage respiratory infections:

  • Staying hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to help thin mucus and soothe your throat.
  • Rest: Adequate sleep allows your body to recover.
  • Using a humidifier: Adds moisture to the air, which can help relieve congestion and coughing.

Special Considerations for Asthma Patients

Identifying Early Signs of Respiratory Infections

As an asthma patient, it’s important to be vigilant about monitoring your symptoms and recognizing early signs of respiratory infections. If you notice any changes in your breathing or an increase in asthma symptoms, consult with a healthcare provider promptly, like Kamelhar Pulmonology.

Adjusting Asthma Treatment During Respiratory Infections

If you have asthma and develop a respiratory infection, you may need to adjust your asthma treatment. This could involve using your quick-relief medications more frequently or temporarily increasing the dose of your long-term control medications. 

Preventative Strategies


Staying up-to-date on your vaccinations is important for preventing respiratory infections, especially if you have asthma. Get your annual flu shot and consider getting vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, which can cause pneumonia and other serious infections.

Lifestyle and Environmental Controls

In addition to vaccinations and healthy habits, minimizing your exposure to allergens and irritants can play a significant role in preventing respiratory infections, especially if you’re prone to allergies or have asthma. Simple steps like regularly cleaning your home to reduce dust and other allergens, washing bedding frequently in hot water, and using air purifiers can make a big difference. If you know your specific triggers, like pollen or pet dander, taking steps to avoid them can further reduce your risk of respiratory infections and the potential complications they can bring.

When to Seek Medical Help

Signs of Severe Asthma Attacks

Asthma attacks can escalate quickly, and it’s crucial to recognize the signs of a severe attack that requires immediate medical attention. If you experience intense difficulty breathing, even when you’re not exerting yourself, it’s a red flag. Similarly, if your lips or face turn blue, it indicates a lack of oxygen and requires urgent care. A feeling of extreme anxiety, panic, or impending doom is another alarming sign that your asthma attack is severe and you need emergency help.

Signs of Severe Respiratory Infections

While many respiratory infections can be managed at home, it’s important to know when to seek professional medical attention. If your fever spikes above 103°F, it’s a sign that your body is struggling to fight off the infection and you should see a doctor. Similarly, a cough that lingers for more than a week, especially if it’s accompanied by bloody or discolored mucus, could signal a more serious underlying condition. Shortness of breath or chest pain should never be ignored, as these could indicate complications like pneumonia or a worsening asthma attack. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek medical help.


By understanding the connection between asthma and respiratory infections, recognizing the symptoms, and taking preventative measures, you can better manage your respiratory health and improve your quality of life. Proactive management is key to staying healthy and breathing easy.

If you’re looking for expert guidance and personalized care for your asthma or respiratory concerns, the team at Kamelhar Pulmonology is here to help. Our experienced specialists offer comprehensive evaluations, diagnoses, and treatment plans specific to your individual needs. Contact us today!

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