An Overview of Asthma Management
Asthma is a disease that affects the airways of the lungs. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing and wheezing. Severity can range from a minor inconvenience to a major problem that interferes with daily life or leads to a life-threatening attack. While there is no cure for asthma, symptoms can be controlled. It’s important to work with your doctor and get the treatment that’s right for you.
Asthma affects 22 million Americans. Some people have a family history or are more susceptible due to allergies or tobacco smoke. However, anyone can develop asthma at any age. Working with your doctor to track and identify symptoms is the first step to managing asthma and finding the right treatment.
A person with asthma has very sensitive airways that are susceptible to different triggers. Contact with these triggers can cause symptoms or a full-blown asthma attack. Identifying and avoiding your triggers is one of the most important parts of asthma management. Common triggers include:
- Infections like colds, flu and other viruses
- Tobacco smoke
- Allergens like dust mites, pollen and pets
- Irritants like strong odors, perfume, wood smoke or air pollution
- Some medications
- Strong emotions like laughing hard or crying
Asthma can be controlled, but not cured. Proper care like avoiding your triggers and/or taking certain medications are the best ways to manage this condition. There are two types of drugs used in the treatment of asthma:
- Anti-inflammatories – these drugs reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways. These reduce sensitivity in the airways and, thus, you are less likely to react to triggers. When these medications are taken daily, they can control or prevent asthma symptoms.
- Bronchodilators – these are drugs that relax the muscle bands that tighten around the airways. This helps open the airways to let more air in and out and improve breathing. In the short-term, these drugs relieve or stop asthma symptoms by opening the airways and long-term, they help control symptoms and prevent episodes.
Asthma medications can be taken in different forms. Inhalers and nebulizers are metered doses of medication that are inhaled. Oral medications can also be prescribed. You can live better with asthma by taking steps to protect your health. More tools and resources on asthma management can be found here.