How to Treat Asthma
Asthma is one of the leading chronic diseases experienced by children. In fact, children are more likely to have asthma than adults. This is due to the fact that many individuals actually outgrow asthma as they age. Throughout this article, we explore the signs and symptoms of asthma, the types of asthma, how to manage symptoms and how to treat asthma. If you have recently been diagnosed or your child has been diagnosed as asthmatic, this article can provide a brief overview of what to expect when living with an asthma diagnosis. If you want more information on how to treat asthma, keep reading.
What Is Asthma?
Normal breathing involves inhaling air through the nose, which travels down the throat and into your lungs. Yet, with asthma, the structures of the airway become swollen. Mucus may coat these areas, making it difficult to breath.
When these symptoms are severe, an asthma attack may happen. An asthma attack is characterized by shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
The Signs and Symptoms of Asthma
How can you tell if you or your child has asthma? The following signs and symptoms are common for those with asthma:
- Coughing, especially when laughing, exercising, or at night
- Wheezing or whistling sounds when breathing
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty breathing
However, the type of asthma you have may influence what symptoms you experience. The types of asthma are explored in more detail in the next section.
The Types of Asthma
Understanding the type of asthma you have can help you manage it. There are many different kinds, but we provide an overview of the most common six.
While it is more common to develop asthma as a child, it can arise during your adult years. Adult-onset asthma develops as an adult. This may be due to potentially never, or rarely, coming across asthmatic triggers. Occasionally, an infection may trigger asthma.
Allergic triggers can bring on asthmatic symptoms. For instance, dust or pollen can cause wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath. This is what is known as allergic asthma.
Asthma-COPD overlap refers to an individual that experiences asthma symptoms, but also has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is categorized as various lung diseases that obstruct normal breathing and airflow. While the majority of individuals with COPD do not have asthma, it is possible to have both, which is called asthma-COPD overlap.
Exercise Induced Bronchoconstriction
Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction is where asthmatic symptoms develop during exercise. Most individuals with asthma have this type of asthma, where breathing becomes more difficult with higher intensity exercise. Although, individuals with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction may not have asthmatic symptoms in other situations.
Nonallergic asthma is triggered by nonallergic entities, such as stress, extreme weather, or illness. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what the trigger is, so speaking with a doctor or healthcare professional can be beneficial.
Occupational asthma refers to asthmatic symptoms that arise at work. This may be caused by chemical fumes, irritants, or other pollutants. People often notice this type of asthma comes about when they switch jobs or when they notice they feel fine outside of work.
Treatment and Management of Asthma and Asthma Attacks
Luckily, there are many ways to treat asthma. Treatment options will often depend on the type of asthma you have. For the most part, individuals have an asthmatic action plan. This means taking certain medication when you notice or anticipate symptoms. Here’s what further management can involve.
Tracking Your Symptoms
Keep an asthma journal for you or your child. Record when symptoms present themselves. This can help identify potential triggers and lessen their impact.
Keep Track of Your Lung Function
Use either Peak Flow or a Spirometry to measure your lung function. Most individuals use a peak flow meter at home. This measures how quickly you can exhale the air completely from your lungs. Spirometry, on the other hand, is more common in the doctor’s office. However, some individuals use an at home device as well.
Perform Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises can help you practice getting enough air in your lungs. This may also help improve your lung capacity, which may help decrease asthmatic symptoms in the future.
Use Rescue Medications
These medications are frequently only used when an asthma attack occurs. They include:
- Nebulizers or rescue inhalers
Further, long term medications are also often used to manage daily symptoms.
The best thing asthmatic individuals can do is to avoid triggers that lead to severe asthmatic symptoms, which could lead to an asthmatic attack.
How Do You Know Your Asthma is Under Control?
Well controlled and managed asthmatic individuals only experience symptoms twice a week or less. They rarely wake up during the night and their asthma barely impacts their daily activities.
On the other hand, asthma is poorly controlled if symptoms occur daily, a rescue inhaler is needed multiple times a day and these symptoms lead to interference with one’s daily life. Further, lung and breathing tests show 60% less than your personal best.
When it comes to managing an asthma attack, removing any known triggers can help. For instance, stopping the activity causing it and taking slow and deep breaths may halt an attack in its track. However, if attempts to get an attack under control fail, including medication, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.
Learn How to Properly Manage Your Symptoms
Asthma is an entirely manageable condition. It just takes a plan and knowing what causes your symptoms in the first place. Educate yourself and your family or friends on what to do in the case of an asthma attack, and ensure you take the proper precautions to prevent an asthma attack. The more you do and know, the better equipped you are to handle and manage your asthma.