Treatments and medications to fight chronic asthma
Stop asthma attacks before they start! Whether you think you have asthma or if you’ve had it for years, getting tested and having the proper treatment in place is imperative. Take a breather, because we’ll show you how you can win the fight.
Lung function testing
What are we talking about when we talk about asthma? Answer: We’re talking about the air we breathe, or more importantly, how much air our lungs are able to take in. Initial testing for asthma and the severity of it should be done by a physician. More than likely, the first step will be a pulmonary test called spirometry. It’s a simple test that requires a patient to simply breathe in and out of a tube, and by measuring how much air goes in and out, doctors can tell how wide or narrow your bronchial tubes are. There’s also a home test that will better enable you to treat the affliction.
A peak flow meter is a fantastic way to track your oxygen flow right from the comforts of your own home. They’re affordable, and easy to use, and help you combat asthma by tracking how hard you breathe out. If your peak flow reader tells you that your lungs are not working at full capacity, then you’ll definitely want to consider these treatments options.
Lifestyle improvements to combat asthma
Let’s start with the easy and obvious — there are tons of things you can change in your daily life that can contribute to better air flow in your lungs. When looking around your home for ways to improve your breathing, you should definitely consider the following:
- Furry friends (pets) – We love our dogs and cats (or whatever else tickles your fancy), but not only can they cause allergy symptoms of varying degrees, but pet dander often finds its way into the air. Don’t want to get rid of your pet? We understand, just make sure and groom your pet, and clean your home often.
- Cleanliness is next to godliness – Speaking of cleaning your home, there’s a whole lot of grime around your house that could contribute to asthma attacks. Keep you home dust free by cleaning, and investing in dust covers. Change out carpet for hardwood floors, and clean bed sheets and pillow cases often to avoid dreaded nighttime asthma attacks.
- Improve air flow – Air conditioners are a great tool for improving air flow, which will rid your home environment of unwanted pollen and dust mites. If you live in a warm and humid climate, then you should consider investing in a dehumidifier.
Medications and treatments (short term)
If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, or suspect you might have it, then there are a number of treatment options. Below are a few that doctors would recommend for short term relief. In other words, this is how you combat an asthma attack, or prevent it from happening when you feel it coming on.
- Short acting bronchodilators – This form of treatment is fast acting, and is administered when one of two drugs are inhaled. The first is albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA, and others) and the second is levalbuterol (Xopenex). These “beta agonists” are administered using a simple inhaler, or nebulizer. All that’s needed is a device that’ll turn the medication into a nice, soft mist.
- Ipratropium (Atrovent) – What’s better than relaxed airways while drawing in a long breathe? Well, for those who suffer asthma, nothing. These fast acting medications relax your airways, enabling a much larger intake of oxygen. They’re also primarily used for emphysema and chronic bronchitis, but they also treat asthma.
- Inhaled Corticosteroids – When taken orally, corticosteroids also relax airways by reducing inflammation. They’re typically used in sever cases of asthma, and treatment is also very short due to, in some cases, severe side effects.
Medications and treatments (long term)
Anyone who has asthma knows that fighting attacks and staying healthy is a lifelong battle. Instant relief is great, and completely necessary, but to hit it where it hurts these long term treatment methods will knock the wind out of asthma.
- Other corticosteroids – This slew of anti-inflammatory drugs can also be taken intravenously, which is highly effective, but it can take weeks to combat asthma symptoms. That’s not all bad though, because if you don’t take it orally, the side effects are greatly diminished.
- Leukotriene modifiers – These drugs have the wonderful effect of combating asthma symptoms for a full 24-hour period, alleviating the need to constantly breathe through an inhaler. They’re known to cause a number of psychological side effects, so monitor your mood if you take one of these modifiers.
- Long acting bronchodilators – These drugs are also taken using an inhaler. The long acting drugs come with added risks, therefore, it’s essential that these drugs are inhaled with corticosteroids. Otherwise, some studies show that these drugs can actually increase the likelihood of an asthma attack.