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Asthma, a disease of the lungs that causes airways to become blocked or narrowed, makes it difficult for nearly 22 million Americans to breathe. Some asthma attacks can cause the airways to be so severely blocked that oxygen is unable to enter the lungs. These asthma attacks also prevent oxygen from entering the blood stream and traveling to the body's vital organs.
Researchers believe that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to asthma. If asthma runs in your family, you may find that exposure to irritants such as tobacco smoke can aggravate your airways.
A common condition of asthma is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is a chronic condition that makes it difficult to breathe. There are two main forms of COPD: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis characteristically includes a long-term cough with mucus, while emphysema involves destruction of the lungs over time.
Although smoking is the leading cause of COPD, it is not the only way to develop the disease. Other risk factors include exposure to certain gases or fumes, exposure to large volumes of smoke and pollution and frequent use of cooking fire without proper ventilation.
Common asthma symptoms include:
If you suffer from asthma, consider consulting one of our physicians who can assess your condition and prescribe medications to help manage your asthma symptoms. Our physicians commonly use two major groups of medications for asthma treatment:
Although asthma is a long-term condition, a physician can help you significantly minimize the frequency and severity of your asthma attacks or asthma symptoms.
Spirometry is a common test used to assess how well a patient’s lungs work by measuring how much air they inhale, and how much and how quickly they exhale. Spirometry is used to diagnose asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other conditions that affect breathing. It may also be used periodically to check whether a treatment for a chronic lung condition is helping the patient breathe better.
An objective test of lung function is necessary to properly determine whether a patient has asthma. A medical history and a physical examination alone aren’t sufficient to rule out other possible conditions, or to determine the actual extent of lung impairment.
Once a patient is diagnosed with asthma, follow-up visits to a primary care physician may include periodic lung-function testing using a peak flow meter device. However, peak flow meters are not recommended for use in determining the initial diagnosis.
A spirometry test is non-invasive and usually takes no more than 30 minutes. The patient breathes into a mouthpiece attached by a tube to a spirometer recording device, which measures various aspects of lung function. The results of the test are promptly analyzed by a physician who is board-certified in Allergy and Immunology, and sent within 24 hours to the referring primary care physician.
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