Patient Care

Asthma- Overview

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory lower airway disease. It involves the bronchial tubes but not the other lung tissue. Three different problems in the bronchial tubes lead to asthma symptoms. Inflammation and swelling of the bronchial tissue, build up of mucus in the bronchial airways, and constriction or tightening of the muscles around the bronchial airways. Inflammation in the airways leads to both mucus build up and constriction of the muscles. Severe asthma attacks can involve all three of these problems, but the rapid onset of symptoms seen in many patients is most commonly due to muscle contraction which rapidly narrows the airways and causes coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

Asthma can affect people at any age, although asthma commonly stats in childhood. Most people can be successfully treated with inhaled medications, as a result making their asthma a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life threatening asthma attack. However, even patients with severe asthma can be successfully treated. In addition to the use of medications, for patients who are allergic the use of allergy immunotherapy or “allergy shots” to their treatment has the potential to significantly improve asthma symptoms. In fact, allergy injections can provide long-term control of asthma and allergic rhinitis that medications cannot.

The University of Miami has an active research program in asthma in collaboration with the American Lung Association’s Asthma Clinical Research Center network.

Dr. Adam Wanner leads our Asthma Clinical Research Center and most of the faculty in our division see patients with this diagnosis. We have also an expert in Allergy and Immunology, Dr. Lauren Fine.

The University of Miami Health System offers several ways to request an appointment with these physicians. You can make an appointment by calling Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time at 305-243-4000 or toll-free 1-800-432-0191. Appointments can also be requested online at:

For patients with asthma interested in participation of clinical studies of asthma, please follow the link to the division’s research page Pulmonary Research for further contact information.