Asthma is a chronic and serious disease. Currently, doctors don’t know how to cure asthma. However, with the proper medication and help from a doctor, you can manage and control the condition.
What is Asthma?
Asthma causes airway inflammation in its victims, making it difficult to breathe. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Numerous things cause asthma attacks and symptoms. Common triggers include pollen, dust mites, exercise, smoke, and extreme weather changes.
According to the CDC and Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 25 million Americans (or 1 in 13) currently suffer from asthma.
How Asthma Affects the Immune System
While it is not an autoimmune disorder, asthma shares a close relationship with the body’s immune system. The body’s immune system typically protects a person against bacteria and viruses. However, in the case of asthmatics, the immune system causes a worsening of symptoms. Asthma and allergies often go hand in hand, and an allergic reaction can trigger an asthma attack.
What Are Your Asthma Treatment Options?
Effective asthma treatment requires asthmatics to carefully track their symptoms and measure how well their lungs take in air.
People can manage their asthma by maintaining a good treatment plan. The Mayo Clinic states that the proper execution of these plans typically requires asthmatics to follow three important steps.
1. Track your symptoms.
Write down symptoms each day in an asthma diary. Recording symptoms can help people to recognize when they need to make treatment adjustments.
2. Record how well your lungs are working.
This involves performing the two primary lung function tests. A peak flow test can be performed at home and indicates how fast one can force air out of their lungs. A spirometry test measures how much air one’s lungs can hold and how much can be exhaled in one second. Up until now, this type of test was performed in a doctor’s office. However, new asthma tech allows you to do spirometry at home.
3. Adjust treatment according to your asthma action plan.
The majority of asthmatics have at least two types of medications: long-term and quick-relief.
Long-term control medication forms the first line of defense for asthmatics. These preventive medications treat airway inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms. Used daily, they can reduce asthma flare-ups. In some cases, proper medicine can even eliminate them.
Quick-relief, or rescue medications, contain fast-acting medicines. Medicines quickly open up the airway, making it easier to breathe. Each patient’s individual asthma action plan dictates how often to take these medicines.
Doctors may prescribe more invasive and involved treatments for people with severe asthma. An FDA-approved procedure, bronchial thermoplasty, delivers “precisely-controlled thermal energy” to the airways. This procedure reduces the frequency of severe asthma attacks. However, side effects occasionally include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Managing the Side Effects of Asthma Medications
Inhaled steroids are perhaps the most common asthma medication. Using these medications properly, along with an asthma action plan, should result in fewer symptoms and flare-ups. People typically administer the medicine via inhaler, although it can be administered in other ways as well.
Inhaled steroids have few side effects, especially when taken in low doses. A small number of people may experience hoarseness, thrush, or a type of yeast infection. These infections can be easily treated with a doctor’s prescription. If you experience difficulty with side effects, contact your doctor.
Medications Cannot Cure Asthma
Asthma falls into the category of chronic disease, rather than a single disease. This means that a “silver bullet” cure for asthma seems unlikely. However, modern technology can provide ways to manage asthma beyond quarterly visits to a doctor.