Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your bronchial tubes (airways). It causes swelling or narrowing of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. It affects nearly 20 million people in the United States. Almost half of them (9 million) are children.
Asthma Action Plan: An asthma action plan is a written plan developed by your doctor to help you manage your asthma and prevent asthma attacks. The plan gives you and your family information that can be used in the event of an asthma attck or emergency. It is very important to be familiar with your plan and discuss it with family members.
Medications: Most asthma medications work by reducing swelling in(corticosteroids) & opening the airways (bronchodilators). These medications must be taken regularly to keep symptoms under control. There are also quick relief or rescue medications for treatment of an Asthma Attack. An Asthma attack is a sudden onset or worsening of asthma symptoms. It can be brought on certain triggers such as allergens, certain medications, exercise, anxiety, irritants in the air (smoke, perfumes, cleaning agents, etc.) and can sometimes occur without any apparent cause. Most people have a "Rescue Inhaler" for asthma attacks. You an your doctor will have worked out a plan of action to follow when an asthma attck occurs. The severity of an asthma attack can escalate rapidly, so it's important to treat these symptoms immediately once you recognize them.
Some examples of medications include:
- Inhaled steroids (such as Azmacort, Vanceril, AeroBid, Flovent) to prevent inflammation
- Long-acting bronchodilators (such as Serevent) to open airways
- Leukotriene modifiers (such as Singulair and Accolate) help to prevent inflammation
- Anti-IgE therapy (Xolair) injection given to patients with severe asthma
- Cromolyn sodium (Intal) or nedocromil sodium - used to treat mild persistent asthma
- Short-acting bronchodilators (inhalers), such as Proventil, Ventolin, Xopenex, and others.
- Corticosteroids, such as prednisone or methylprednisolone) given by mouth or injected
Avoiding Triggers: Identify and avoid things that may trigger an Asthma attack.
Peak Flow Meter: Your doctor may want you to use a peak flow meter at home. A peak flow meter is a hand held device that is used to measure lung function. You use a peak flow meter by taking a deep breath in and then blowing the air out hard into the meter. It then gives you a number that tells you how fast you moved the air out.
If you follow your doctors advice and your plan of care, you can lead a full life.