Asthma is a common respiratory ailment or disease that affects breathing by a noticeable restriction or narrowing of your bronchial tubes. Additionally, your respiratory system could also be producing excessive mucus, which blocks airwaves.
When this occurs, you experience shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and dizziness if it is severe enough. While not curable, asthma is usually not life-threatening, although it can be a significant medical handicap with a multitude of triggers. Asthma “attack” can be brought on by allergies, dust, dander, pollution, pollen, stress, too much exertion or exercise, or significant emotional experiences.
Asthma attacks are usually short-lived, lasting under ten minutes, but this is frequently true because of the number of treatment options available, including albuterol inhalers (or nebulizers) that are light and easy to carry around and produce very fast results, restoring breathing to normal almost immediately when they are working well. There are other options for treatment that make asthma a controllable problem.
Symptoms, Risks, and Triggers
The standard symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, chest pain and tightness, wheezing and coughing. Secondary symptoms include loss of sleep and increased frequency of flu and colds. There is also the possibility of increased trouble with respiratory ailments, such as pneumonia, which can be more dangerous, combined with an asthma attack.
Increased risks associated with asthma include hereditary links, being overweight, and smoking. Those with allergies are at higher risk.
Triggers are numerous, but they include many kinds of allergens plus stress and over-exertion. Putting stress on your respiratory system by physical activity can trigger an attack.
There are various levels of severity. These include mild, intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent. While these are labels the medical community uses to describe the severity of an asthmatic condition, the labels point out how disruptive and alarming having asthma can be. Even mild asthma is distressing because nobody likes to feel they are short of breath, and almost everyone enjoys exercising on a moderate or challenging level.
Prevention generally refers to preventing an asthma attack once you have been diagnosed with asthma. The prevention plan you use should be discussed at length and in detail with your physician. But persons with asthma need to self-monitor their behavior, just as someone with diabetes must monitor what they eat.
Prevention plans usually include listing and avoiding triggers. These lists also should include responses to an asthma attack, which can limit the duration and severity of an asthma attack. Certainly, an attack that can be stopped in under a minute is less distressing than one that persists.
There are many treatments available for asthma sufferers. Some of the medications are aimed at long-term relief, while others are aimed at quickly ending an attack when they occur.
Pharmaceutical responses to asthma include
Inhaled corticosteroids, such as Flonase, Flovent, HFA, Pulmicort, Flexhaler, Rhinocort, Aerospan, Alvesco, Omnaris, and several others. While these medications often require several applications to reach their full potential for relief, they are considered safe medications for long-term use.
Leukotriene modifiers, such as Singulair, Accolate, and Zyflo, which are designed to provide long-lasting (generally 24 hours) relief.
Combination Inhalers that include fluticasone and salmeterol, budesonide and furmoterol or formoterol and mometasone.
Theophylline – an oral medication, swallowed, not inhaled
Quick-relief medications that include beta-antagonists, Atrovent, and various corticosteroids
Allergy medications that prevent triggers from inducing an asthma attack.
When To Seek Help
In San Diego, call Pacific Medical Care at 619-333-8114 to schedule an appointment for proper diagnosis and treatment of lung or breathing-related problems.