It is approximated that 334 millions of people worldwide suffer from a debilitating lung condition called asthma. Asthma is characterized by airway inflammation and hypersensitivity to triggers that results in its narrowing subsequently giving rise to symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing and cough. Asthma is highly treatable. Although full remission is possible, the rates of remission are lower. The risks of permanent lung function impairment in asthmatic patients are increased in smokers.

Asthma Treatments

Currently there is no specific cure for asthma. However, there are treatments available to help control symptoms to ensure asthma patients are able to live a normal and active lifestyle. There are several steps in treating asthma symptoms mainly:

(1) Inhalers

This is a device that allows a person to breathe in medications in the form of aerosol. There are several types of inhalers mainly reliever and preventer inhalers. Reliever inhalers are blue in colour and helps in relieving the symptoms that occur while preventer inhalers stop the symptoms from developing and should be taken certain period of time.

(2) Tablets

Depending on the severity, tablets may also be prescribed together with inhaler if an inhaler alone does not reduce symptoms. The main types of tablets prescribed for asthma are Leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) and theophylline. Both of these are prescribed for daily consumption to reduce symptoms. Another common tablet is steroid tablet that should be taken for a period of time. Long term treatment using steroids may give rise to side effects such as increased appetite, easy bruising and brittle bones.

(3) Injections

For severe asthma, injections may be given every few weeks to control symptoms. The main injections are omalizumab and mepolizumab. However, these injections are not suitable for everyone and may only be prescribed by an asthma specialist.

(4) Surgery

Bronchial thermoplasty is a relatively new treatment in which a thin, flexible tube will be passed down the throat and lungs. Heat is then used on the airway muscles to help them to stop narrowing and subsequently stopping asthma symptoms. As this is a new procedure, the long term effects are not fully understood yet.

(5) Complementary therapies

A few complementary therapies have been proposed as additional treatments for asthma, including:

(a) Breathing exercises – such as techniques called the Papworth method and the Buteyko method

(b) Traditional Chinese herbal medicine

(c) Acupuncture

(d) Ionisers – devices that use an electric current to charge molecules of air

(e) Manual therapies – such as chiropractic

(f) Homeopathy

(g) Dietary supplements

However, there is little evidence to proof the effectiveness of these treatments aside from breathing exercises that may help in relieving symptoms in some people.

As for occupational asthma, it can be prevented by removing or substituting the asthma trigger at workplace, relocate the workplace and ensure that protective breathing equipment are provided. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of an employee in a workplace.

Avoiding Asthma

 Every asthma patient will be provided with an asthma action plan. This plan is developed tailored to individuals to help control asthma. An asthma action plan allows a person to be active without asthma symptoms, able to attend school or work and have no emergency visits to the hospital. There are four main ways to avoid asthma:

(1) Identify asthma trigger and minimize its contact

(2) Consume medications as prescribed by doctor

(3) Monitor early signs and symptoms of asthma that are getting worse

(4) Know what to do when asthma is worsening as explained by doctor

With proper care and avoiding triggers, most people with asthma can live an active lifestyle. To know more about this condition, you can click on this link https://www.doctoroncall.com.my/asma.

About the author

Sara T. Loving

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