Can Medicine Alone Help My Asthma
Not usually. Although medicines help a lot, they may not be able to do the job alone. You have to avoid the things that cause or trigger your asthma symptoms as much as you can. Asthma triggers can be found outside or inside your home, school, or workplace.
Improving the indoor air quality in your home is an important part of asthma control. Your indoor air can be more polluted than outside air. Our interactive Healthy Home can show you ways to improve the indoor air quality of your home. A healthier home can reduce your exposure to allergens and irritants.
What Are The Different Types Of Asthma
There are two kinds of asthmaallergic and nonallergic. Both types cause the same asthma symptomslike wheezing, shortness of breath and mucus production. But allergic and nonallergic asthma have different triggers, and the treatments for each can be different. So its important to identify which kind of asthma you have its the first step toward getting better control over your condition.
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Other Terms Used To Describe Asthma
Aside from the chronic asthma classifications and acute asthma exacerbation, there are additional subtypes used to provide insights into your asthma. They can also help predict how you may respond to treatment.
Characterizing your asthma may help identify specific triggers and guide the development of new treatments to help manage and prevent attacks.
The below subtypes may be chronic or acute, so its important to discuss them with your doctor and follow the appropriate treatment plan for each.
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How Is It Treated
The goals of asthma treatment are to improve symptoms, reduce the risk of hospitalization and loss of lung function, and minimize adverse effects from asthma medications, like oral corticosteroids.
Effective asthma management typically focuses on prevention. This can mean regular visits where a doctor:
- assesses your symptoms
- adjusts your medications, if needed
- provides education
- discusses how you can avoid triggers
In general, people with mild intermittent asthma usually only need a rescue inhaler to treat their symptoms. You do not typically need daily medication, since your symptoms only occur occasionally.
However, chronic controller medications are usually necessary if youre classified as having persistent asthma. Its important that all people with asthma have immediate access to an inhaled bronchodilator with a rapid onset of action for quickly relieving asthma symptoms.
People with persistent asthma often need to take asthma medication daily. This can help keep their asthma under control, even if they do not experience daily symptoms. These medications are considered long-term control medications and they work by reducing inflammation in the airways.
Depending on the specific drug, long-term control medications can come in an inhaler or in tablet form.
The type a doctor prescribes, along with your dosage, can depend on your individual symptoms and their severity.
If your asthma is designated as moderate to severe, a doctor may prescribe more than one medication.
What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen and are used for intermittent and chronic asthma.
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms of chronic asthma.
- Biologic therapies for asthma: These are used for severe asthma when symptoms persist despite proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or another type of asthma inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
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Severe Asthma Typically Requires A Combination Approach To Treatment
If someone experiences asthma symptoms more than twice a week, their asthma is termed persistent. And among those with persistent asthma, doctors further categorize the condition as mild, intermediate, or severe.
The symptoms of severe asthma are similar to those of mild asthma, theyre just more frequent and more severe, and require more medications to keep them under control, says Emily Pennington, MD, a pulmonologist and asthma specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Often, if someones symptoms require a combination of asthma medications such as high-dose inhaled corticosteroids as well as longer-acting drugs that persons asthma is termed severe. The same term applies to people who dont respond well to treatment.
We dont entirely understand why some people dont respond as well to medication, Dr. Pennington says. Genetic and underlying molecular factors are likely explanations, she says, but the exact causes of severe asthma are complex and likely vary from one person to the next.
Theres also an informal term, uncontrolled asthma, that refers to people whose asthma symptoms are not well managed. This can happen for a number of reasons:
- Other conditions, such as heart disease, that make asthma hard to manage
- Lifestyle choices, such as the decision to smoke cigarettes, that exacerbate asthma symptoms
- Not following a doctors advice or guidelines when taking medications
Additional reporting by Markham Heid.
What Are Common Triggers For Asthma
A trigger is something that provokes a response from your body. In the case of asthma, your body sees these triggers as a threat and releases chemicals to combat them and these chemicals, in turn, can cause an asthma attack.
Different things can act as triggers for different people, but common asthma triggers include exercise, illness and allergens such as pollen. Triggers can also come from certain medications, the weather, stress, smoke and even some foods.
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What Can I Do To Get Back In Control Of My Asthma Symptoms
Most of the time, with the right medicines and support you can improve your asthma symptoms.
You can help things along by:
- taking your preventer inhaler every day, and any other medicines and treatments youve been prescribed
- using a agreed with your GP or asthma nurse. Keep it up to date by taking it along to each appointment.
- keeping a peak flow diary alongside a diary of your triggers and symptoms.
- getting support to quit smoking and avoiding being around others who smoke
- being open about how you feel stress, anxiety and depression are common for people with difficult asthma.
Use your preventer inhaler every day
You should notice a real difference to your symptoms if you use your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed. Your preventer inhaler works away in the background to prevent inflammation and swelling in your airways. Taking it every day means youre less likely to react to your asthma triggers, get symptoms, and have asthma attacks.
Alternative To An Inhaler: Nebulizer
A nebulizer is a machine that turns the asthma medication into a fine mist. A nebulizer can be used for rescue medications and control medications. Nebulizing can be expensive and time-consuming. The machines are bulky. For these reasons, nebulized medication is mainly used for people who cannot use a metered-dose inhaler with a valve holding chamber and face mask.The advantage of using a nebulizer is that the person can breathe in and out like normal. The nebulizer can be used with a mouthpiece or snug-fitting face mask.2
General guidelines for using a nebulizer are:3
What type of asthma inhaler do you use? Do you use a spacer or valved holding chamber with it? Let us know in the comments below!
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Other Types Of Asthma
You may also hear other asthma types mentioned, such as nocturnal asthma or cough-variant asthma. Nocturnal asthma is asthma that gets worse at night. It may wake you from sleep. This type is very common. Your doctor may adjust your medications to give you more asthma control at night. Cough-variant asthma has persistent coughing as the main symptom, rather than wheezing. This type is treated the same way as other types.
Sometimes you will also hear about levels of asthma. These levels classify the condition by its severity. The levels include intermittent, mild, moderate or severe.
- Intermittent asthma causes symptoms less than twice a week
- Mild persistent asthma causes symptoms two or more days a week
- Moderate persistent asthma causes symptoms at least every day and wakes you up one or more nights a week
- Severe persistent asthma causes symptoms every day and wakes you up every night.
Work with your doctor to find out which type of asthma you have, so you can develop the asthma treatment plan thats best for your particular condition. Remember that its likely you have more than one type.
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What Are The Signs That I Might Have Asthma
Do you have a regular cough that you just cant seem to kick? Do you struggle to catch your breath? Is there a whistling or wheezing sound when you breathe? These can all be signs of asthma. Other common symptoms include chest tightness and shortness of breath. The key with asthma is that symptoms come back over and over again. Your allergist can evaluate whether your symptoms are a sign of asthma.
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What Should I Do If I Suffer An Asthma Attack
If an attack does occur, stay calm and use the medications your allergist has prescribed. These are typically administered with an inhaler.
Seek medical treatment if your coughing or shortness of breath persists or seems to get worse.
Regulation Of The Pulmonary Circulation Helps Restore The Ventilation/perfusion Ratio
Pulmonary circulation depends on the pulmonary vascular resistance , gravity, alveolar pressure, and the hydrostatic pressure gradient provided by the right heart. The PVR, in turn, is influenced mainly by two factors: the inflation of the lung and the reaction of the arterioles to the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood.
The PVR, which determines blood flow, is affected by three separate variables: the alveolar gas pressure that compresses the capillaries, the resistance of alveolar vessels , and resistance of extraalveolar vessels. Unlike the systemic circulation, the capillaries in the lungs accounts for about 40% of the PVR. At lung volumes greater than the FRC, capillaries are stretched and compressed, and the resistance of the alveolar vessels increases. At lower lung volumes, the extraalveolar vessels are not held open by their tethers to the alveolar tissues, and their resistance increases. These effects contribute to a biphasic relationship between PVR and lung volume. The PVR is minimum around the functional residual capacity, FRC.
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What Are The Three Types Of Asthma
The three common types of asthma are as follows:
Other types of asthma include the following:
- Occupational asthma: This is common in carpenters, hairdressers, animal breeders, and farmers who are exposed to allergens at their workplace. Medication and counseling may be needed.
- Cough variant asthma: Severe coughing is the main feature of this asthma rather than wheezes. It may be triggered by infections or exercises.
Types Of Asthma Inhalers
The medicine inside an inhaler goes straight into the airways when you breathe in. This means that you need a much smaller dose than if you were to take the medicine as a tablet or liquid by mouth. The airways and lungs are treated, but little of the medicine gets into the rest of the body.
The proper medicine name is called the generic name. Different drug companies can use the generic medicine and produce different brands the proprietary medicine names. There are many different brands of inhalers. Inhalers can have generic names and be produced by different drug companies too. For some medicines there are different inhaler devices that deliver the same medicine. This means that there are many types of inhaler available on prescription, all of which are produced in different colours. This can be confusing.
Because there are lots of different-coloured inhalers available, it is helpful to remember their names, as well as the colour of the device. This might be important if you need to see a doctor who does not have your medical records for example:
- In A& E.
- If you are on holiday.
- Outside the normal opening hours of your GP surgery.
It might be helpful to keep a list of the names of your medicines and inhalers in your wallet or purse. This information will prevent mistakes and confusion.
In the treatment of asthma, the medicine inside inhalers can be grouped into relievers , preventers and long-acting bronchodilators.
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General Symptoms Of Asthma
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition in which the airways in your lungs become narrow and inflamed, often leading to difficulty breathing. There are several different types of asthma: allergic asthma, non-allergic asthma, nocturnal asthma, occupational asthma, cough-variant asthma, and a related condition called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. While there is variation among these asthma types with respect to causes, triggers, and treatment options, there are also some similarities, including the core symptoms of asthma such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, and shortness of breath.
Some people with asthma experience intermittent flare-ups while others have symptoms the majority of the time, or persistent asthma. Persistent asthma can be categorized further as mild persistent, moderate persistent, or severe persistent depending on the severity of symptoms.
Reducing The Burden Of Asthma
Asthma cannot be cured, but good management with inhaled medications can control the disease and enable people with asthma to enjoy a normal, active life.
There are two main types of inhaler:
- bronchodilators , that open the air passages and relieve symptoms and
- steroids , that reduce inflammation in the air passages. This improves asthma symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks and death.
People with asthma may need to use their inhaler every day. Their treatment will depend on the frequency of symptoms and the different types of inhalers available.
It can be difficult to coordinate breathing using an inhaler, especially for children and during emergency situations. Using a spacer device makes it easier to use an aerosol inhaler and helps the medicine to reach the lungs more effectively. A spacer is a plastic container with a mouthpiece or mask at one end and a hole for the inhaler in the other. A homemade spacer, made from a 500ml plastic bottle, can be as effective as a commercially manufactured inhaler.
Access to inhalers is a problem in many countries. In 2021, bronchodilators were available in public primary health care facilities in half of low- and low-middle income countries, and steroid inhalers available in one third.
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What Are The Classifications Of Asthma Severity
All of these asthma terms can be confusing, and there is a clear distinction between the type of asthma you have and the classification. So, once youve been diagnosed with asthma, your doctor may determine the severity of your symptoms with this classification system.4
- Mild intermittent asthma: As the name suggests, your symptoms are mild, which means you experience them less than twice a week with nighttime symptoms less than twice a month. Your lung function testa breathing test that measures how well your lungs are workingshows 80% function or more. Asthma attacks tend to be brief .
- Mild persistent asthma: Your symptoms are still mild, but more frequentat least two days a week and two nights a month. Your lung function test will still show 80% function or more.
- Moderate persistent asthma: Your symptoms kick in on a daily basis, requiring use of a short-acting inhaler, and flare-ups occur at least twice a week and may last for days. Nighttime symptoms occur at least one night a week. Your lung function is at 60 to 80%.
- Severe persistent asthma: Your symptoms occur daily and are severe enough to impact physical activity and sleep with frequent flare-ups. Lung function is at 60% or less.
Asthma Types By Symptom Severity
In addition to categorization by asthma triggers, each case of asthma is classified by the frequency of symptoms and how much they impact the activities of daily life. In adults and children aged 5 or older, doctors will also consider forced expiratory volume the result of a lung function test. FEV measures the amount of air that can be exhaled in a forced breath.
The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program has established the criteria described below for classifying asthma severity.
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What To Know About Asthma Severity Levels
What is severity? In simple terms, it’s the intensity of your asthma. It can also be looked at as the least amount of treatment you need to maintain control. Different levels are determined by the frequency and severity of your symptoms, as well as the results of lung function tests, such as spirometrySpirometry measures how much air you can inhale and exhale from your lungs, as well as how quickly you can exhale air out of your lungs. Its one of the most common tests for diagnosing asthma and is often done in your doctors office. and a peak flow meter test.A peak flow meter measures how fast you can push the air out of your lungs. Its used to track your daily breathing so you can detect airway inflammation before your symptoms get worse. Consult your doctor before you purchase a device to find the one thats right for you. Consult your doctor or asthma specialist to be tested and learn more about your severity level.
Severity is based on the level of treatment needed to control symptoms. Your doctor may assign severity level based on the most severe indicator.
A person in any severity level can have severe asthma attacks
Your severity level may change over time
To help determine your severity level, your doctor may ask questions such as:
- How often do you have symptoms?
- How often are you waking up at night?
- How often are you using your rescue inhaler?
- How many normal activities are you missing out on?