Asthma: Help, Support and Overcome
Asthma is a common respiratory condition brought on by inflammation of the respiratory tract which obstructs breathing and produces labored breathing patterns. The tubes that carry air to your lungs become blocked due to the inflammation and hyper-sensitivity or allergy to certain inhaled substances. Asthma sufferers commonly display difficulty in breathing, wheezing and coughing, especially at night or in the early morning.
Due to its nature, asthma takes a severe toll on the sufferer’s daily life. However, people might be able to deal with it by using simple and quick relief inhalers in case of mild symptoms. More severe cases require the patients to undergo regular treatment and drug therapy. It is estimated that around 20.5 million Americans are currently suffering from asthma.
Help and Support for Asthma
Allergens like pollen, mold or dust, the common cold, respiratory infections, extreme exercise or physical activity, stress and many other factors can cause asthma. Symptoms commonly displayed include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain in the chest and bouts of intense coughing. Patients commonly display mild or no symptoms most of the time, interrupted by periods of more severe breathing trouble.
Preventing an attack is possible by avoiding known allergens and respiratory irritants. Avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke, air pollution, industrial dust and fumes can reduce the risk significantly. Use of anti-allergen covers, dust traps, filtering material and other such implements around the home can also help. For some patients it is recommended that they stay away from strenuous activity.
Asthma is not a hundred percent curable. Patients feel fine most of the time, but are always in danger of a flare up. The key to proper diagnosis and treatment is the identification of the allergens or irritants that cause inflammation of the respiratory tract specific to each individual. Some tests used by doctors to aid detection include lung function tests, peak flow measurements, chest X-rays, blood tests including eosinophil count, and testing for arterial blood gas. Treatment usually involves two kinds of medication: long term control medication which is used to cure symptoms regularly over the course of the treatment and not during an attack, and quick-relief medication, used to calm symptoms during an attack.
Long term medication includes inhaled steroids to prevent inflammation, leukotriene inhibitors, anti-IgE therapy, a medicine given by injection to the patients with more severe asthma, long-acting bronchodilators to help open airways and others.
Some of the short term quick relief medication commonly used are short-acting bronchodilators or inhalers and corticosteroids, such as prednisone or methylprednisolone, which is given by mouth or injected into a vein. Mild sufferers may use quick relief medication as and when required. However, people suffering from severe asthma require long term treatment and may involve admission into a hospital in case of severe symptoms.