Asthma 101: What is Asthma and How Do I Treat It?


Apparently, people who suffer asthma experience shortness of breath, with half of them also having spasms that can make it difficult to perform normal activities such as exercise and walking.  The other symptoms include chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing.

In case you’re still wondering–Asthma is a chronic condition that affects about 26 million Americans. It results in the swelling and narrowing of the passageways of air to and from the lungs. According to the World Health Organization, it is mostly hereditary and if people with asthma are exposed to a substance to which they are sensitive to, the symptoms can become more severe.

Asthma could be allergic—usually caused by an exposure to an allergen (molds, dust mites, pollen, and cockroaches) or nonallergic due to cold, flu, an exposure to extreme weather conditions, stress, or some medications. For now, there is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with some treatments.





Asthma Treatment

Two different kinds of treatments are having a serious moment on the asthma wellness scene right now– quick-relief medicines and long-term management medicines. Allergy shots like immunotherapy have also proved helpful in some cases.

  • Quick-relief medicines

For quick-relief medicines short-acting inhaled beta2-agonists and anticholinergics are bronchodilators that are capable of expanding the bronchi to improve breathing. They also help to clear mucus from the lungs by enabling the mucus to get coughed out more easily.

However, it is vital to note that this asthma treatment can stop symptoms, but they are incapable of controlling the airway swelling that result in those symptoms.

  • Long-term control medicines

To prevent asthma symptoms and attacks, cromolyn sodium, leukotriene modifiers, methylxanthines, inhaled corticosteroids or long-acting inhaled beta2-agonists, or immunomodulators are taken every day to help improve control.




Are Corticosteroids risky treatment options?

Though steroids are effective for treating asthma, but they can be dangerous when prescription instructions are not followed. Research has found that when taken as prescribed, corticosteroids are effective, safe and well-tolerated asthma medication.

It is no news that some other studies have warned that inhaled corticosteroids is capable of slightly reducing growth rate in children by about 1 centimeter each year. This may not be unconnected to dosage and how long a child takes the steroid. An asthma specialist is, therefore, in the best position to recommend corticosteroids as a treatment option for a child with asthma.





There are two types of immunotherapy options: allergy shots and sublingual (under the tongue) tablets.

  • Allergy shots 

Asthma attacks that are triggered by an allergy could be abated with allergy shots. They are very powerful in reducing allergy symptoms and in certain cases can cure the allergy. Treatment can take several years while boosting immunity against allergens like dust mite, molds, cockroaches and pollen.

By injecting little amounts of the allergen into the body, it gradually increases after a while. The shots fortify the body and help it build up a resistance to the side effects of the allergen. The allergies symptoms can be significantly reduced this way.

  • Sublingual tablets:

In 2014, this type of immunotherapy was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The strategy is to daily dissolve a tablet under the tongue several months before allergy season sets in. This treatment can go on for as long as three years.

However, kindly note that sublingual tablets should not be used by patients suffering from severe asthma. For now, grass and ragweed pollens are the only allergens that can be treated this medication. It is hoped that this would change in the future.




Consider seeing an asthma specialist

An asthma specialist, usually called an allergist can help with more information on asthma and develop a treatment plan that works for you. You seriously consider seeing an allergist if the following happens:

  • The symptoms become more frequent.
  • You have been hospitalized because of your asthma.
  • You need help to identify your asthma triggers.
  • You need to determine if allergy shots would be helpful.
  • The asthma attack is life-threatening.
  • You suffer symptoms that are abnormal or difficult to diagnose.
  • After three to six months, you’re not responding to current asthma.
  • You suffer severe fever or sinusitis—they complicate asthma.

For a child from 0-4 years who suffers asthma symptoms frequently, it is recommended that they see an allergist.


Prevention of asthma

The best strategy in tackling asthma is the prevention of symptoms. It is important asthmatic people are able to identify what situations trigger an attack and avoid them as much as possible. However, if asthma attacks become severe, it’s best to consult with an allergist to help determine the triggers and a suitable treatment plan.

Interestingly, studies prove that the incidences of asthma attack can be avoided or reduced if sufferers see an asthma specialist. The other advantages are of course, fewer or no hospital visits, no missed days from work, and reduced healthcare costs.


Bottom line

Asthma may be one of the most common chronic illnesses and can be fatal, but if well-managed, sufferers are capable of living healthy and productive lives. This is possible by steering clear of triggers and sticking to the instructions of an asthma specialist.