Asthma is a serious condition that affects 25 million people in the US. Sometimes thought of as a childhood condition, asthma can persist into adulthood, causing severe breathing problems that can make it difficult to live a normal, active life.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition, meaning that there is no cure and that you’ll experience its symptoms throughout your life. It primarily affects the body by causing inflammation and blockages. When your airways narrow due to these conditions, it’s harder to pass air in and out.
Here are the common symptoms of asthma:
- Inflammation — Asthma causes your airways to become red and swollen. This irritation causes them to become inflamed, which makes it harder for air to pass
- Blocked Airways — Along with inflammation, asthma also causes an increase in mucous secretions. These secretions are sticky and thick
- Trouble Breathing — The combination of inflammation and mucus causes sensitive, swollen airways that can be triggered by the smallest allergen
Asthma is a treatable condition, and if you stay on top of it, you can experience a more normal life. If you don’t treat your asthma, you can experience the above symptoms, plus chest pain, coughing, wheezing, and more, which could eventually land you in the hospital.
There is no single way to treat asthma. Instead, your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms to determine the best way forward. However, for many patients, treatment involves the use of inhalers, small, pressurized devices that force medicine into your airways.
There are two primary types of inhalers: quick-relief and preventative. Quick-relief inhalers are taken at the first signs of an asthma attack, such as coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Preventative-use inhalers are used on a regular basis, usually daily, to manage more severe conditions to prevent the use of quick-relief inhalers.
In addition to inhalers, your doctor may prescribe other treatments to help you manage your condition. There are medicines in tablet form that can help ward off symptoms, as well as oral steroids that are used when other medicines aren’t offering enough relief. Depending on the severity of your case, your doctor may also suggest injections of biologic therapies like benralizumab, omalizumab, mepolizumab, or reslizumab. In the most severe of cases, surgery may also be a treatment option.
Keeping asthma under control is key to living a happy and fulfilling life. Let us help you learn about treatment methods and lifestyle changes for managing your condition.