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How To Treat Asthma Symptoms

Will I Always Have To Take The Same Amount Of Medicine

Asthma – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Not always. You will probably take more medicine when you begin treatment to get control of your asthma. Work with your doctor to learn which medicine control your asthma best and how much you need. Once your asthma is well-controlled, your doctor may be able to reduce the amount of medicine you take. The goal is to gain control of your asthma as soon as possible and then control it with as little medicine as possible. Once long-term anti-inflammatory therapy begins, your doctor should monitor you every one to six months. This is to see how your asthma medicines are working and if your asthma is well controlled.

When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Eib

If you or your child has symptoms of exercise or sports-induced asthma, call your provider. Several conditions have symptoms that are similar to EIB. Its essential to get evaluated.

If you or your child has severe shortness of breath or trouble breathing, seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 or go directly to the emergency room.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Many people with exercise-induced asthma play sports, enjoy a range of activities and live an active lifestyle. People of all fitness levels, including Olympic athletes and marathon runners, manage asthma and excel at their sports. If you or your child has EIB, be sure to include a warmup routine before exercise. Keep an eye on pollen counts and air quality before you head outside. Talk to your provider about medications that can help you breathe easier. With lifestyle changes and prior planning, you can stay active and exercise safely.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/17/2021.


Whats An Asthma Attack

When you breathe normally, muscles around your airways are relaxed, letting air move easily. During an asthma attack, three things can happen:

  • Bronchospasm: The muscles around the airways constrict . When they tighten, it makes the airways narrow. Air cannot flow freely through constricted airways.
  • Inflammation: The airway linings become swollen. Swollen airways dont let as much air in or out of the lungs.
  • Mucus production: During the attack, your body creates more mucus. This thick mucus clogs airways.

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Choosing The Right Asthma Delivery Device

Have you ever wondered how your doctor decides which is the best way for you to take your asthma medicine?

Options include syrups, granules, tablets, or capsules that you swallow. Or they are aerosols and powders that you inhale from a metered-dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler or nebulizer. Attaching a valved holding chamber to an MDI allows patients to direct the medicine into the airways by holding it and inhaling at their own speed.

Healthcare providers prescribe treatments effective in disease control. They also want treatments that are convenient for patients needs and lifestyles. You should be part of the decision process. Discuss with your healthcare provider your needs and lifestyle.

Here are 5 patient-focused factors that are part of the decision process:

  • Age. This is always an important consideration, but especially with infants. Infants have smaller airways and lungs and breathe faster. National asthma guidelines say children should use a holding chamber when using an MDI. This is because the aerosolized spray comes out faster than most kids can inhale.
  • Ability to follow directions. This consideration crosses all age groups. It includes when and how to take a particular medication. Even adults may confuse the directions for using MDIs and DPIs.
  • If your asthma symptoms persist, talk with your doctor about the need to adjust your medications. Talk with your doctor about concerns over cost. Any barrier to using your medication can affect your asthma control.

    What Is Good Asthma Care

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    Your doctor or nurse will tailor your asthma treatment to your symptoms. Sometimes you may need to be on higher levels of medication than at others.

    You should be offered:

    • care at your GP surgery provided by doctors and nurses trained in asthma management
    • full information about your condition and how to control it
    • involvement in making decisions about your treatment
    • regular checks to ensure your asthma is under control and your treatment is right for you
    • a written personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse

    It is also important that your GP or pharmacist teaches you how to properly use your inhaler, as this is an important part of good asthma care.

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    How To Prevent An Asthma Flare

    You can do your best to prevent an asthma flare-up before it begins. Since many asthma symptoms are caused by asthma triggers, you should:

    • Monitor your symptoms to figure out what your asthma triggers are . Record your PEF readings on a regular basis and keep a log of your symptoms.
    • Avoid exposure to allergens, irritants, and pollutants. For example, control pet dander at home if you have pets. If you have seasonal allergies, consider wearing a mask and closing your doors and windows when the pollen count is high.
    • Stop smoking, if you havent already.
    • Get the seasonal flu vaccine, especially if illnesses make your asthma symptoms worse.

    Which Activities Are Less Likely To Cause Sports

    Indoor sports and those with short bursts of activity are less likely to trigger an asthma episode. But any activity can cause symptoms. Be sure to talk to your provider before starting any exercise program.

    To avoid symptoms, you may want participate in sports or exercises that are best for asthma including:

    • Activities with short bursts of energy: Asthma symptoms appear less often during sports that involve quick, short sprints with periods of rest. These sports include volleyball and baseball.
    • Less-rigorous activities: Golf, biking and walking are often good choices for people with asthma.
    • Indoor sports: Some indoor activities are less likely to trigger sports-induced asthma symptoms.
    • Warm or humid environment: Swimming, diving and water polo have a lower risk of triggering sports-induced asthma symptoms. Moist pool air makes an EIB episode less likely. But some people find chlorine in a pool to be irritating. A saltwater pool can be a better choice, if you have one available.

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    Other Drugs Used To Prevent And Treat Asthma

    Other drugs are occasionally used in asthma treatment. These drugs may be used in specific circumstances. Magnesium is often given by vein in the emergency department for acute attacks.

    Other drugs that may be given for chronic asthma include lidocaine or heparin given with a nebulizer, colchicine, and intravenous immune globulin. Evidence supporting the use of any of these therapies is limited, so these drugs are used much less often.

    , such as older age, family members with osteoporosis, a diet that is low in calcium and vitamin D, or thin build, may need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements and bisphosphonates to try to preserve bone density.

    How Is Asthma Classified

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    Doctors rank how bad asthma is by its symptoms:

  • Mild intermittent asthma. Mild symptoms less than twice a week. Nighttime symptoms less than twice a month. Few asthma attacks.
  • Mild persistent asthma. Symptoms three to six times a week. Nighttime symptoms three to four times a month. Asthma attacks might affect activities.
  • Moderate persistent asthma. Daily asthma symptoms. Nighttime attacks five or more times a month. Symptoms may affect activities.
  • Severe persistent asthma. Ongoing symptoms both day and night. You have to limit your activities.
  • Your asthma may be getting worse if:

    • You have symptoms more often and they interfere more with your daily life.
    • You have a hard time breathing. You can measure this with a device called a peak flow meter.
    • You need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often.

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    How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Exercise

    Your provider will ask about your symptoms, including when you have them and how long they last. After listening to your lungs, your provider will ask you to perform an activity that usually triggers your symptoms . Then your provider will measure your lung function with a spirometry test.

    During spirometry, you exhale as much air as you can as fast as possible. You breathe into a tube attached to a machine called a spirometer. The machine measures how well your lungs work after exercise.

    How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma

    Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, eczema and other lung diseases.

    Your provider may order spirometry. This test measures airflow through your lungs and is used to diagnose and monitor your progress with treatment. Your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray, blood test or skin test.

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    Do You Know What Type Of Asthma You Have

    Asthma is a disease that affects your airways, which carry air in and out of your lungs. The type of asthma you have depends on your specific triggers.

    Thanks to advances in asthma research, doctors have been able to identify the different types of asthma. The five most common types of asthma are: exercise-induced bronchospasm , allergic asthma, cough-variant asthma, occupational asthma, and nocturnal or nighttime asthma. EIB occurs after physical exertion. Its not always easy to determine which type of asthma you have. Proper diagnosis and regular communication with your doctor can help you to determine the best course of action.

    Asthma is a chronic lung disease, so its important to receive treatment as soon as possible to ensure that your condition doesnt worsen.

    Side Effects Of Steroid Tablets

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    Oral steroids carry a risk if they are taken for more than three months or if they are taken frequently . Side effects can include:

    • muscle weakness

    With the exception of increased appetite, which is very commonly experienced by people taking oral steroids, most of these unwanted effects are uncommon.

    However, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for them regularly, especially side effects that are not immediately obvious, such as high blood pressure, thinning of the bones, diabetes and glaucoma.

    You will need regular appointments to check for these.

    Read further information:

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    The Importance Of Self

    Asthma is a chronic condition, which means that there is no cure. However, people can often manage the condition with a combination of daily and rescue medications.

    Moreover, self-care is important for people with asthma. Individual responsibility and action are essential for the prevention of asthma attacks.

    In combination with a medically sound asthma action plan, home remedies for asthma can be very helpful and play an important role in keeping the condition under control.

    How To Prevent Asthma In Dogs

    Allergic bronchitis is a tricky condition that may not be fully recognized until its too late to reverse. Therefore, taking proper care to prevent it in the first place will give your dog the best chance at living asthma-free.

    • Bathe your dog regularly and thoroughly dry him after each bath.
    • Dont smoke near your pets.
    • Forego your fireplace or wood-burning stove for battery-powered candles or fake glowing logs.
    • Opt for non-toxic plants and use natural pesticides in places your dog cant reach.
    • Use natural cleaners around your house, such as white vinegar straight from the bottle or diluted with water.
    • Wear natural scents, such as essential oils that can be mixed to duplicate common scents without the allergens.
    • Install air purifiers to reduce the air pollution in your home. A less expensive option would be to install a HEPA filter in your air conditioning system in order to reduce the humidity in your home, which can aggravate asthma.
    • If you have cats at home, use dust-free cat litter, which is good for your entire household including your cats lungs.
    • Consider getting rid of your carpet, which often carries toxic chemicals from the manufacturing process.

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    A Personalized Treatment Plan May Include:

    Macrolide antibiotics are used to help the body fight infection. These medicines control the number of white blood cells found in your airways. One study showed positive results using macrolide antibiotics in people with high counts of neutrophils in blood or sputum samples. Doctors dont suggest these medications be used long term though because side effects, such as antibiotic resistance, can be very serious.

    Oral corticosteroids are medicines that help to control inflammation. While experts recommend these medicines only for short-term use, doctors may prescribe them long-term for people with more frequent asthma flare-ups. Severe asthma patients use these medications in combination with quick-relief medicine, high-dose inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting bronchodilators. Side effects from using oral corticosteroids can pose a risk to the function of other bodily organs, but the benefits may at times outweigh the risk. The hope is that by using these powerful drugs for a short period of time, patients can gain better control and will eventually not need them at all. This treatment option is approved for adults and children, although long-term use in children is not recommended due to the higher risk side effects. If symptoms are still not controlled with long-term use of an oral corticosteroid, another treatment option should be considered.

    Type of severe asthma

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    Ruling Out Diseases Associated With Asthma

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    Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease , also known as ASA intolerance, is an intolerance of cyclooxygenase 1 inhibitors. It is associated with hypersensitivity to ASA, nasal polyps, chronic sinusitis, and asthma . The exact prevalence of AERD is uncertain and is reported as between 4 and 21% of asthma patients . Diagnosis can be confirmed only using ASA provocation as there is no valid skin or laboratory test for AERD .

    Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis should be suspected in the following cases:

    • Very high total IgE levels
    • Specific IgG and IgE antibodies to Aspergillus fumigatus
    • Fleeting pulmonary opacities

    ChurgStrauss syndrome should be suspected in the following cases:

    • Blood eosinophils > 10%

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    What Types Of Asthma Are There

    Asthma is broken down into types based on the cause and the severity of symptoms. Healthcare providers identify asthma as:

    • Intermittent: This type of asthma comes and goes so you can feel normal in between asthma flares.
    • Persistent: Persistent asthma means you have symptoms much of the time. Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe. Healthcare providers base asthma severity on how often you have symptoms. They also consider how well you can do things during an attack.

    Asthma has multiple causes:

    • Allergic: Some peoples allergies can cause an asthma attack. Allergens include things like molds, pollens and pet dander.
    • Non-allergic: Outside factors can cause asthma to flare up. Exercise, stress, illness and weather may cause a flare.

    Asthma can also be:

    • Adult-onset: This type of asthma starts after the age of 18.
    • Pediatric: Also called childhood asthma, this type of asthma often begins before the age of 5, and can occur in infants and toddlers. Children may outgrow asthma. You should make sure that you discuss it with your provider before you decide whether your child needs to have an inhaler available in case they have an asthma attack. Your childs healthcare provider can help you understand the risks.

    In addition, there are these types of asthma:

    What Triggers An Asthma Attack

    Numerous triggers can cause asthma attacks, including:

    Tobacco smoke While smoking is unhealthy for anyone, its particularly dangerous for people with asthma. If you smoke, you should quit.

    Secondhand smoke can also trigger an asthma attack. Avoid situations in which people around you smoke. Also don’t let people smoke in a place where you spend a lot of time, such as your home or car even if you’re not present when they smoke.

    Smoke from wood or grass Even though it may seem natural, smoke from these sources contains harmful gases and particles.

    Avoid burning wood in your home. If you live in an area where wildfires occur, monitor air quality forecasts and try to stay inside when particle levels are at their worst.

    Outdoor air pollution

    Certain foods and food additives While almost any food can cause an allergic reaction, a few additives are widely believed to cause adverse reactions in some people.

    Acid reflux can also trigger an asthma attack in some people, so any food that aggravates this condition may also be responsible for symptoms.

    Respiratory infections These include influenza , the common cold, respiratory syncytial virus , and sinus infections.

    Strong emotional statesCertain medications

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    Additional Medication For Severe Asthma

    In addition to a reliever and preventer inhaler, severe asthmatics may be prescribed other treatments. You may need to try several options before your healthcare provider finds the right choice for your needs.

    In addition to inhalers, treatment options include:

    • Long-acting bronchodilators these can be added to a preventer inhaler and help keep the airways open for at least 12 hours.
    • Leukotriene receptor antagonists a non-steroid tablet that helps to calm inflamed airways, block the effects of leukotrienes and help with allergies.
    • Long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonists a form of long-acting bronchodilator that can work for 12-24 hours.
    • Long-acting beta-agonists another form of long-acting bronchodilator that is used to relax the muscles in the airways.
    • Slow-release theophylline a non-steroid tablet that helps to relax the smooth muscles in the airways, enabling air to more easily flow through.
    • Short-acting beta 2-agonists a form of quick relief medication that can be used when asthma symptoms occur.
    • Daily steroids these are prescribed in tablet or liquid form and are a type of anti-inflammatory medicine. They work by helping to reduce the sensitivity in the airways.
    • Monoclonal antibodies a newer form of medication for severe uncontrolled asthma. They work by blocking the activity of immune system chemicals that trigger airway inflammation.

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