Wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and tightness in the chest. These are all common Asthma symptoms.
Asthma is an illness that affects millions of children worldwide and, in many cases, it can carry through to adulthood. Adults can also develop asthma even though they didn’t suffer from it as children. It’s a strange illness. It’s part of the allergy basket but no one knows exactly what causes it and it has no cure. The only way to live with asthma is through long term medication.
So what exactly is asthma and how does it affect you?
Asthma is a condition where the airways of the lungs become narrow or swollen. It causes less oxygen to get to the lungs and this is when sufferers experience shortness the above mentioned side effects.
Asthma sufferers can live a normal healthy life. Some may suffer from symptoms daily and some may experience rare episodes and attacks.
What brings on an Asthma attack?
Anything from dust mites and air pollution to tobacco smoke, pet allergies and mold can bring on an Asthma attack. Other triggers can include the flu, chest or sinus infections, acid reflux, scented candles, exercise, humid weather and even breathing in cold air. A reaction to medication, food additives and fragrances can also affect asthma sufferers.
The low-down on Asthma medications
- Bronchodilators are drugs that open the airways so that more oxygen can get in. These are short acting drugs that open the airways for a limited time and provide immediate relief of symptoms. They do not prevent future attacks and do not reduce the severity of the disease. The most used Bronchodilators drugs include Albuterol (Ventolin), Ipatropium Bromide (Atrovent) and Terbutaline (Bricanyl). Click on the drug link to find out about specific uses and side effects of Ventolin, Atrovent and Bricanyl.
- The second class of drug prescribed to treat Asthma belongs to the steroid family. Steroids treat asthma by reducing the swelling, severity and frequency of the attacks. They do not provide immediate relief from attacks like the Bronchodilators do. The most used steroid drugs include Beclometasone (Pulmicort) and Qvar, and Fluticasine (Flovent). Click on the drug link to find out about specific uses and side effects of Pulmicort, Qvar and Flovent.
In recent years there has been a trend in treatment to give a longer acting bronchodilator together with a steroid. Advair is the best example of this. By putting these two medications together you can get prolonged relief from shortness of breath and you can reduce your dependence on short acting medications like Ventolin. In Israel Ventolin and other short acting relievers all require prescription, In Australia they are more advanced and you can get these over the counter provided you commit to taking therapies that help you reduce the length and severity of attacks.
Some easy tips from Saul on how to improve your Asthma treatment and reduce Asthma symptoms!
Track your asthma – keep records of your symptoms
Use a peak flow meter – this is a device that measures how well your lungs are operating and will give you a quantitative idea of your lung function.
Look into alternative therapies like salt rooms, salt inhalers, and Singulair. (a drug that blocks the chain reaction causing inflammation in the lungs)
Reduce your exposure to allergens and pollen. It is also helpful to know what triggers your asthma. For me I have found that certain preservatives set off an attack as well as cutting the lawn. Everyone is different and has different triggers that can set off an attack.
Important things to remember
- Quick acting medications like Albuterol are not a long term treatment, you need to be on a long acting preventer and you need to be on corticosteroids to reduce severity and frequency.
- Always wash your mouth out after taking drugs containing steroids. This will help prevent fungal infections of the mouth and airways.
- Carry your preventer around with you so that you always have access to live saving medications
- Tell your friends and family that you suffer from asthma and wear an asthma bracelet or medical ID- this will help emergency teams know what condition you have and what medications you are on
- From personal experience long term therapy with steroids can cause heartburn and GERD, it is recommended to use a drug like Nexium or Prilosec if you suffer from symptoms of excess stomach acid due to inhaled steroid use.
If you have questions about Asthma symptoms, Asthma medications, Asthma side effects then feel free to email us with any questions…..