Tips for Managing Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways. Asthma is defined simply as reversible airway obstruction. Asthma is characterised by attacks of breathlessness, tight chest, wheezing and coughing which are caused by the airways becoming narrowed and inflamed. Some people may have these symptoms all of the time and others may be normal between attacks. 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. Signs of an asthmatic episode include wheezing, rapid breathing (tachypnea), prolonged expiration, a rapid heart rate (tachycardia), rhonchous lung sounds (audible through a stethoscope), and over-inflation of the chest. Asthma attacks are not all the same—some are worse than others. In a severe asthma attack, the airways can close so much that not enough oxygen gets to vital organs. This condition is a medical emergency. People can die from severe asthma attacks.

Asthma attacks can be caused by many things like exercise, cold air, allergies, and breathing in certain chemicals. A person having an asthma attack should use an inhaler or go and see a doctor for a prescription. Asthma is treated with two kinds of medicines: quick-relief medicines to stop asthma symptoms and long-term control medicines to prevent symptoms. Desensitization to allergens has been shown to be a treatment option for certain patients. Short-acting, selective beta2-adrenoceptor agonists, such as salbutamol (albuterol USAN), levalbuterol, terbutaline and bitolterol. Current treatment protocols recommend prevention medications such as an inhaled corticosteroid, which helps to suppress inflammation and reduces the swelling of the lining of the airways. Tremors, the major side effect, have been greatly reduced by inhaled delivery, which allows the drug to target the lungs specifically; oral and injected medications are delivered throughout the body. Currently available long-acting beta2-adrenoceptor agonists include salmeterol, formoterol, bambuterol, and sustained-release oral albuterol.

Corticosteroids help decrease the frequency of your attacks and reduce the need for other medications you may use to control your symptoms. Nebulizers may be helpful to some patients experiencing a severe attack. Salbutamol and terbutaline inhalers are the most common relieving inhalers. Heliox, a mixture of helium and oxygen, may be used in a hospital setting. Guaifenesin, an expectorant available over the counter, may have a small effect in managing thickened bronchial mucus. Anti-Inflammatory medications for asthma are the most important treatment for asthma control; they help prevent swelling and decrease secretions within the airways in people with asthma. Some asthma medications are used for quick relief of asthma symptoms, others to control this chronic condition. Long-acting beta-2 agonists, such as salmeterol (Serevent Diskus) and formoterol (Foradil), last at least 12 hours. These corticosteroids — including prednisone, methylprednisolone, hydrocortisone and others — may be taken to treat acute asthma attacks or very severe asthma.

Asthma Treatment Tips

1.Leukotriene modifiers (montelukast, zafirlukast, and zileuton), which are used either alone to treat mild persistent asthma.

2. Cromolyn and nedocromil, which are used to treat mild persistent asthma.

3. Theophylline, which is used either alone to treat mild persistent asthma or together with inhaled corticosteroids to treat moderate persistent asthma.

4. Long-term use of corticosteroids can have many side effects including a redistribution of fat, increased appetite, blood glucose problems and weight gain.

5. Deposition of steroids in the mouth may cause a hoarse voice or oral thrush (due to decreased immunity).

6. Leukotriene modifiers (montelukast, zafirlukast, pranlukast, and zileuton).

7. Mast cell stabilizers (cromoglicate (cromolyn), and nedocromil).

8. Antimuscarinics/anticholinergics (ipratropium, oxitropium, and tiotropium), which have a mixed reliever and preventer effect.

9. Methylxanthines (theophylline and aminophylline), which are sometimes considered if sufficient control cannot be achieved with inhaled glucocorticoids and long-acting ß-agonists alone.

10. Antihistamines, often used to treat allergic symptoms that may underlie the chronic inflammation.

11. Methotrexate is occasionally used in some difficult-to-treat patients.

12. Guaifenesin, an expectorant available over the counter, may have a small effect in managing thickened bronchial mucus.