Asthma is a chronic, but common, recurring autoimmune disease of the lungs. Asthma is identified by frequent outbreaks of coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
When it comes to breathing, it's like being on autopilot - we don't give it a second thought. Someone living with chronic asthma has to give this seemingly simple action more thought; chronic asthma is an autoimmune disease that continuously affects a person's airways, causing inflammation and swelling.
Due to your airways being narrowed, restricted airflow causes gasping, coughing, wheezing, and feeling short of breath.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at asthma types, symptoms and how to help the condition.
The onset of asthma can begin for anyone at any age, although most people with asthma first experience symptoms at a young age. It is not uncommon for adults in their 70s or 80s to develop asthma symptoms for the first time.
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person, infrequently for some, asthma symptoms may flare up situationally, like when exercising, at work, or during allergy season.
Asthma signs and symptoms include:
Chest tightness or pain
Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
Shortness of breath
Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
Wheezing when exhaling, which is a common sign of asthma in children
Types of Asthma
There are several types of asthma, and each has a different trigger which brings on symptoms.
Not having been exposed to a trigger, some people don't show signs or symptoms of having asthma until they are adults. This could be a result of a change of environment, like getting a new job, moving in with someone who has a pet, or an upper respiratory infection that leads to a long-term cough.
Airborne substances can trigger attacks such as pollen, mold, cockroach waste, particles of your skin, and pet dander. Although allergens can trigger asthma attacks, not all who have allergies have asthma, and vice versa.
When someone is considered to have severe asthma, it is difficult to treat and manage the symptoms. Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS) occurs when a person has both autoimmune diseases at one time.
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a collection of lung diseases, severe asthma, emphysema and chronicbronchitis, that cause breathing problems and obstruct airflow.
Although, it is possible to have both autoimmune diseases at once, most people with asthma do not develop COPD, and many people with COPD don’t have asthma.
Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB)
Also known as exercise-induced asthma, these symptoms strike while exercising due to airways narrowing as a result of physical activity. Symptoms are found to be worse in cold or dry air. 90% of people with asthma also have EIB.
Non-allergic asthma is triggered by any factor other than allergens. Symptoms tend to occur in extreme weather conditions, when you get sick, and during spouts of stress.
Occupation-induced asthma symptoms are triggered by factors that occur while at work. People with this condition are typically near chemical fumes, gases, dust, or other irritants.
Asthma is very common in young children, affecting 6 million children in the US. Asthma attacks can be more dangerous for children.
What Helps Asthma
Although asthma is not curable, it can be managed and controlled by avoiding triggers, taking medication, and creating an action plan with your doctor. Other options include IV therapy services, like Immunity IV and Hydration IV, which can improve conditions caused by allergies and asthma.
You can manage your asthma outbreaks by avoiding your asthma triggers, similar to the strategies below.
Opening your windows and doors while you clean
Change your air filters frequently
Clean and dust your heating and air conditioning vents regularly
Don't use fragrances with strong odors such as, air fresheners, scented candles, and other strong-smelling household products
Asthma causes inflammation and swelling, narrowing the airways in your lungs. The asthma attacks starts when you're no longer able to breathe normally. Quick-relief inhalers (bronchodilators) quickly open swollen airways that are limiting breathing and allow breathing to return to normal.
Medications for Asthma
Long-term Control Medications
Long-term asthma control medications, known as maintenance medications, are generally taken every day on a long-term basis to control persistent asthma. These medications may be used seasonally if your asthma symptoms worsen during certain times of the year.
Quick-relief medications, or short-acting bronchodilators (quick-relief inhalers), are an immediate source of relief of asthma symptoms and last four to six hours. Albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA, others) and Levalbuterol (Xopenex) are the most commonly used short-acting bronchodilators for asthma. However, your asthma is not under control if you need to use a quick-relief inhaler regularly.
Medication Delivery Devices
Medication is delivered in multiple different ways for asthma patients, but there is a common thread; all devices require you breathe the medication into your lungs, where it gets to work. Medication delivery devices include metered dose inhalers, dry powder inhalers, and nebulizers.
For some people, medications are not enough to control their asthma. There are several new medications, known as “biologics” that have been approved for the treatment of moderate-to-severe asthma.
A biologic, such as immunotherapy or injectable medication, is a medication made from the cells of a living organism that is modified to target specific molecules in humans. In regards to asthma, biologics target antibodies, inflammatory molecules, or cell receptors. By targeting these molecules, biologics work to disrupt the pathways that lead to inflammation that causes asthma symptoms.
Senderra Specialty Pharmacy for Asthma & Respiratory
It is important to recognize and treat even mild asthma symptoms to help you prevent severe episodes and keep asthma under better control.