OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center

Urbana, Illinois

Lung & Pulmonary

The Pulmonary Services department provides outpatient pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gases and pulse oximetry. 

These services are also provided for hospital inpatients along with breathing treatments, ventilators, oxygen therapy, BiPAP/CPAP and education.

For more information on Pulmonary Services, call (217) 337-3738.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation 

Pulmonary rehabilitation, a specialized program consisting of exercise, education and support to meet the daily challenges of living with a chronic lung disorder, can benefit people with COPD, chronic bronchitis, asthma, sarcoidosis and more.

Asthma Education Center

What Is Asthma? 

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways. The airways are the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways are inflamed (swollen).

The inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and they tend to react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating.

When the airways react, they get narrower, and less air flows through to your lung tissue. This causes symptoms like wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing, especially at night and in the early morning.

When your asthma symptoms become worse than usual, it is called an asthma episode or attack.

During an asthma attack, muscles around the airways tighten up, making the airways narrower so less air flows through. Inflammation increases, and the airways become more swollen and even narrower.

Cells in the airways may also make more mucus than usual. This extra mucus also narrows the airways. These changes make it harder to breathe.

Types of Asthma

Different types of asthma include:

  • Allergic asthma
  • Exercise-induced asthma
  • Chronic asthmatic bronchitis
  • Occupational asthma

Signs and Symptoms

Some common symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing (night cough in children), chest tightness, shortness of breath and colds that "go to your chest."

If you have had a history of asthma as a child or it runs in your family, you are at a higher risk for asthma.

Asthma can be especially difficult for patients who also experience seasonal allergies, hay fever, allergic rhinitis, sinus infections, bronchitis, chronic cough, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, exercise induced bronchospasm (EIB), vocal cord disorders or are overweight.


Triggers include:

  • Common allergens – pet dander, dust, mold, plants, pollen, fresh cut grass
  • Irritants – chalk dust, wood and cigarette smoke, perfumes, cleaning products, chalk dust, strong odors
  • Colds and flu
  • Weather changes
  • Food/medicine allergy
  • Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) / heartburn
  • Occupational exposure

Testing & Diagnosis

Asthma is diagnosed using pulmonary function testing. A complete history and physical is also used to establish the level of asthma severity and risk.

Controlling Asthma

Asthma cannot be cured, but most people with asthma can control it so they have few and infrequent symptoms and can live active lives. Asthma often needs daily medication. Avoid triggers, monitor your asthma, take medications and stay in control.

For more information, please contact the Asthma Education Center at OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center at (217) 337-2386.