How to Treat Asthma
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that can’t be cured. The goal of asthma treatment is to reduce underlying inflammation and control the symptoms by preventing asthma attacks from recurring. This usually includes avoiding potential triggers and with medications.
People with asthma need to avoid the things that can trigger symptoms called asthma triggers. Of course, some things that can trigger symptoms can’t be completely avoided (like catching a cold), but people can limit their exposure to some asthma triggers, such as dust mites and pet dander.
In the case of exercise-induced asthma, the trigger needs to be managed rather than avoided. Instead, exercise is encouraged for overall health and improved breathing capacity. Asthma attacks due to exercise can be managed by taking extra time to warm up before exercise and cool down afterwards.
Your health care provider will develop an individualized plan to help identify the best medications and procedures for controlling your condition. Generally, there are two types of medication used in the treatment of asthma: Quick-relief medications and Long-term control medications.
Quick relief medications are asthma medication that acts quickly, but only for a short time, to reduce or stop asthma symptoms that have already started.
Short-acting inhaled beta-agonists are the most frequently prescribed medications in this category. These medicines, called “bronchodilators” include albuterol, act quickly to relax tightened muscles around your airways so that the airways can open and allow more air to pass through.
Over time, your doctor may need to make changes in your asthma treatment. You may need to raise or lower the dosage. The goal is to control the symptoms of asthma with the least amount of medicine.
Long-term control medications
Long-term asthma control medications may include inhaled anti-inflammatory drugs (medications that reduce swelling or prevent inflammation in the airways) and long-acting bronchodilators (medicines that open airways by relaxing muscles around and in the airways).
People with persistent asthma need long-term control medications. One of the most effective long-term control medicines for asthma is an inhaled corticosteroid. This medicine prevents swelling of the airways when exposed to asthma triggers.
However, like many other medicines, inhaled corticosteroids may have side effects. One common side effect of inhaled corticosteroids is a mouth infection called thrush. To avoid it, use a spacer or holding chamber on your inhaler. These devices attach to your inhaler. They help prevent the medicine from landing in your mouth or on the back of your throat. Discuss with your health provider about how to use a spacer or holding chamber.
In some cases, an oral corticosteroids such as prednisone, can be used to keep severe asthma under control for short periods of time. If you stop taking the long-term control medicines, your asthma will likely worsen again.
As a part of your asthma treatment care plan, your health care provider may recommend the use of a hand-held device called a peak flow meter at home to measure how well your lungs are working.
The peak flow meter can help warn you of a possible asthma attack even before you notice symptoms. If your peak flow meter shows a changes in your breathing, you should take your quick-relief or other medications as your doctor prescribed. You can also use the device to see how your airways are responding to the medicine. Peak flow meter is available in clinic and Amazon store.