Asthma is a common but serious problem. Over 25 million Americans suffer from asthma and it accounts for 9.8 million doctor’s office visits every year.¹ Understanding asthma and how to treat it can go a long way towards avoiding a crisis and can make day-to-day life a lot more manageable.
Symptoms Of Asthma
The main symptom of asthma is difficulty breathing. Being short of breath or unable to get in what feels like enough oxygen is another big symptom. Asthmatics will often cough and have great difficulty doing what most people take for granted every day — breathing air in and out.
Asthma often begins with similar symptoms to the common cold, flu, or bronchitis. But it may last longer – even when you otherwise feel fine. Symptoms can spike and increase in severity during phases known as ‘asthma attacks.’ It is not uncommon for asthma sufferers to require an inhaler during these phases – and, in the worst cases, symptoms may escalate to the point where an ambulance might have to be called.
When you are experiencing ongoing problems breathing or sudden attacks where you can’t breathe it is a serious problem and you need help. That is when it’s time to visit a doctor and have them check up on your lungs.
What Causes Asthma?
Asthma can be caused by many factors, including genetic related issues. Asthma attacks can be triggered by things in the environment including animals, certain foods, pollen and bad pollution in the air as well as smoke, perfumes and chemical odors. Heartburn and acid reflux disease can also trigger an asthma attack, as can aspirin, beta blocker medications and other medicines taken for common conditions. In addition, psychological issues can bring on an asthma attack and anxiety and panic attacks can coincide with an asthma attack.
Treating Asthma The Right Way
There are various different ways to treat asthma including inhaled corticosteroids found in inhalers like fluticasone, beclomethasone and budesonide, leukotriene modifiers like Accolate and Zyflo, long-term beta agonists like Serevent and Perforomist and corticosteroid-beta agonist combo medications like Symbicort and Dulera. There are also effective daily pills such as Theophylline and quick-relief medications like Xopenex and Ipratropium.²
Using Your Inhaler Correctly
Quick-relief inhalers can be a godsend for someone suffering from asthma, but if you find yourself having to use it too frequently it could be a sign that you need a different long-term asthma medication to treat your symptoms. It’s worth keeping a list where you note down how many times per day you are having to use the inhaler so that your physician can check this over.
Allergies and Asthma
If you have asthma that is made worse by allergies there are ways to deal with it, including weekly anti-allergy shots for several months followed by monthly shots for the next three to five years or bi-monthly shots of Xolair that helps your immune system fight asthma more effectively. Of course the number one thing is to stay away from the allergens that trigger your asthma and asthma attacks, but sometimes this isn’t an option, especially if you work in an area with pollution, or are being affected by seasonal allergies.³
What To Do About Severe Asthma That Just Won’t Go Away
When you have had asthma for years and it won’t go away there is another solution: bronchial thermoplasty. This procedure is done with electrodes and heats up the inside of the lungs to basically wear down some of the muscle and make them harder to tighten up and give you asthma. While it can be very effective for some, bronchial thermoplasty is a serious procedure that can have complications and should be discussed first extensively with a medical professional.
More Ways To Help Your Asthma
What you eat can actually have a big impact on your asthma: eating healthy fats including fish, dark chocolate, chia seeds, eggs and avocados that contain oleic acid are very good for you, as is fig water. Simply soak some figs in a glass of water overnight and then drink it the next day: it can do wonders for clearing up the mucus in your lungs. Hot drinks like coffee and tea can also have a beneficial impact on your asthma as can vitamin C and using a humidifier.
It goes without saying that technology dramatically improves year after year – and this includes medical technology. Research into the latest and most effective treatments for asthma is happening all the time. To best manage your asthma it is important to do your research on the latest treatments, so that you can make sure you’re managing your symptoms in the easiest and most effective way.