The Basics of Asthma Treatment
Asthma is a chronic respiratory illness affecting the person's ability to breath and infrequently causing sudden surfacing of symptoms (commonly known as an asthma attack). The exact origins of asthma are unclear, but it is certain that this condition has direct correlation to allergies and environmental respiratory irritants, such as air pollution. Asthma causes the inner tissues of airways to become swollen and inflammated, increasing their sensitivity to irritants and allergens. Upon inhaling such a substance, a person with asthma will experience a series of symptoms caused by tightening of minute muscles surrounding the airways, causing them to constrict the airway and impede the access of air to the lungs. These symptoms may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Although asthma cannot be fully cured, it can be controlled up to a point when it has barely any effect on the person's daily life. Ideally, the results of a proper treatment will include:
- Symptom-free everyday life, meaning you should not experience any symptoms while performing day-to day activities unless you come in contact with an allergen or irritant;
- Reduced amount and severity of asthma attacks. With proper preventive measures, you may be able to reduce the risk of an attack nearly to nothing;
- The necessity of "reliever" type medications like bronchodilators will be significantly reduced;
How to Treat Asthma
The most important aspects of asthma treatment include lifestyle adjustments and the use of medications. The course of action is essentially very simple: limit the potential risk of exposure to an allergen while reducing the severity of current symptoms and preventing future asthma attacks. For this purpose your doctor may recommend the use of inhaler medications and counseling therapy that will inform you how to treat asthma. Lifestyle changes usually include several recommendations regarding your home and place of work or study, as well as some advice on environmental awareness. Asthma patients are usually implied to try and reduce to exposure to irritants and allergens to a minimum. For example, if you have asthma and hay fever (if you are allergic to plant and weed pollen) you should avoid any outdoor activity during the allergy season, or if you absolutely have to go outside, choose the route to your destination that will allow minimal exposure to the allergen. Same goes for environmental irritants like polluted air, exhaust fumes, tobacco smoke and others. In cases of extremely severe asthma, patients may have to change their place of residence or work if the exposure is otherwise unavoidable.
Treatment with Asthma Inhalers
Asthma medications commonly include two different types of asthma inhalers - quick acting "reliever" medications, and long-term treatment "controller" drugs. Some inhalers contain a combination of both types of drugs, making them somewhat more handy but reducing the possible amount of daily uses - a combination inhaler can only be used a set amount of times per day to relieve present symptoms. More often however, depending on the severity of your condition your doctor will recommend using two different types of inhalers - one for scheduled everyday use, other to keep close in case of emergency like an imminent asthma attack.