Controlling Asthma: Best Treatments

Asthma is not uncommon. It is one of the main reasons people stay home from school and work. Approximately 26 million Americans, around 7 million kids and 19 million adults, are plagued by asthma. Even in this day and age, more than 3,000 people die each year from asthma. Not recognizing the symptoms of this condition and taking appropriate action could be fatal. Find out what this condition is, what the symptoms are and how to get the best treatment if you suspect you have it.

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How do people get asthma?


About half the people who have asthma inherited it genetically. Others develop asthma due to exposure to certain environmental factors.


Is an inhaler (bronchodilator) all I need if I have asthma?


No, probably not. The necessary medications depend entirely on what type of asthma you have and how severe it is. Bronchodilators are commonly used to deliver corticosteroids that reduce inflammation. There are also oral medications, though, that you may need to take every day or when your asthma is flaring up.


Is there more than one type of asthma?


Yes, there are two main types of asthma. Allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma. Attacks are caused by allergens if you have allergic asthma. Non-allergic asthma attacks are brought on by many things. Other types of asthma include exercise-induced asthma, cough-variant asthma, and occupational asthma. Another type of asthma is referred to as nighttime asthma, which is quite serious and makes it difficult to sleep.


Are there any other types of illnesses with similar symptoms?


Yes, there are, and they can be equally serious or even more serious than asthma. For example, congestive heart failure can cause similar symptoms. Myocardial ischemia is also a serious disease that can mimic asthma. It could also be a sinus infection or vocal cord dysfunction. The bottom line is, if you have any of the common symptoms, you need to get to the doctor for an accurate diagnosis.


What should someone do if they have an asthma attack?


Talk to your doctor about how to handle your asthma attacks. Much of what you should do will depend on the type of asthma you have. Work out a "plan of action" and make sure your loved ones know the plan, too, in case you need help.

If for some reason you don't have your inhaler or medications with you, sit up straight and take slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. This will give you the best, steady flow of air into your lungs and keep you from hyperventilating. Remain calm and move away from anything that you think may have triggered the attack. Drink a cup of hot coffee or tea. The heat and caffeine help open the airways temporarily. If the attack is severe and does not show signs of improving right away, get to an emergency room as quickly as possible.


Can people develop asthma later in life?


Yes. When asthma is diagnosed in people over the age of 20, it is referred to as adult-onset asthma. It is commonly brought on by hormonal changes. For example, menopausal women and pregnant women can develop asthma. Taking estrogen for more than ten years can cause asthma in older women. Illnesses, allergies, exposure to environmental pollutants and even chronic heartburn can also cause people to develop asthma as an adult.


How can I tell if I have asthma?


Common symptoms of asthma include frequent shortness of breath, uncontrollable coughing, a whistling sound in your chest or wheezing and tightness in your chest. If you experience these symptoms, go to your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Quick diagnosis and treatment are critical.


How can I be sure my medications are working?


Track your symptoms carefully. After a few weeks, you will be able to see if your symptoms are improving, remaining constant or getting worse. Work closely with your doctor. Let him, or her know if there is little or no improvement. He or she will probably tell you to check in at regular intervals.


What are the best treatments for asthma?


The best treatments focus on asthma attack prevention. Figure out what triggers an asthma attack and do everything you can to avoid it. If the asthma attacks are severe, some medications can help prevent them or lessen their severity.

Allergy medications and the avoidance of severe allergens may be all you need to do to control allergic asthma attacks. Exercise-induced asthma attacks can be prevented by avoiding strenuous exercise. You may be able to continue to exercise, though, if you use a bronchodilator or inhaler before you exercise. Other types of asthma require different treatments for symptom prevention. You must have your type of asthma diagnosed by your doctor to determine the best course of action.


What can trigger an asthma attack?


Anything that you are allergic to can trigger an asthma attack if you have allergic asthma. Some common allergens that can cause an attack include pollen, mold, mildew, animal dander, detergent, and foods. A non-allergic asthma attack can be triggered by an illness like influenza or even a mild cold. Any type of stress, dust or chemicals in the air, medications, exercise and severe weather that is either especially dry or wet and windy. Extreme temperatures can also trigger an asthma attack.


Are there any natural asthma treatments?


There are natural treatment options, some of which are promising; however, there isn't really enough scientific data to suggest that they can be safely relied upon in all cases. Talk to your doctor about incorporating some natural treatments like massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, and acupuncture. It is important that you work together to find the best way to manage your asthma.


What exactly is asthma?


Asthma is a chronic condition that causes the bronchial tubes or airways that deliver air to your lungs to become inflamed and irritated. During an asthma attack, they swell up which causes a severely narrowed airway. It quite literally chokes up your airway, making it difficult for you to get air into your lungs.

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