Asthma is a disease that affects a person’s lungs, airways and breathing. Many asthma treatment options are available, as asthma is a very manageable condition in most cases.
Asthma can cause difficulty breathing, wheezing, breathlessness, tightness or pain in the chest, and coughing. The combination of these symptoms can be experienced during an asthma attack. This is when an asthmatic would reach for their quick-relief inhaler, but paramedics are sometimes called during a very severe asthma attack.
Asthma is basically an overreaction from the immune system to certain triggers. These triggers could be something the asthmatic is allergic to, such as dust or pollen. Alternatively, other asthma triggers are stress-related, weather-related, and the trigger for many asthmatic is exercise or physical activity.
Asthma is common in both children and adults. If someone lives with asthma, it means their airways sometimes become inflamed, narrowing their airway, making them have trouble breathing. There are mild, moderate and severe cases of asthma. Those with mild asthma may only have a mild asthma attack a few times every month, and few triggers. Those with severe asthma could have daily asthma attacks, having to be very careful as many different things trigger the onset of their asthma.
Asthma Treatment Options
Luckily, asthma is highly treatable with many different treatment options that are effective. Below is a list of asthma treatment options, some of which we’re about to discuss in more detail:
- Monitor your own asthma symptoms and triggers, so that you know what triggers the onset of your asthma and can potentially avoid such triggers.
- Visit respiratory clinics regularly, and see respiratory specialists for check-ups on how your asthma is improving or worsening.
- Use water aerobic exercises or other aquatic exercises to strengthen your lungs
- Daily breathing exercises to strengthen your lungs and practice breathing
- Use inhalers
- Anti-inflammatory medications prescribed by your doctor to reduce swelling in the airways
- Improve your cardiovascular endurance by trying to do more cardio
Below, we’ll discuss some of the most effective asthma treatment options in more detail:
Breathing exercises are designed to allow more air to get into your lungs, while you get better at the act of breathing itself.
As you practice certain breathing techniques, you strengthen your lungs and increase air capacity. As a result, you can cut down on the severity of your condition. Your doctor or respiratory specialist will share breathing exercises to do at home or recommend a therapist to work with you.
These quick-relief medications are also called rescue meds, and an inhaler is an example of a quick-relief medication. You must use them in the event of an asthma attack. They live up to their name by providing rapid relief to alleviate symptoms and help you breathe. The medications for this are called bronchodilators.
They work fast to relieve your bronchioles or airways by relaxing the muscles around them. You will find them in an inhaler form which you puff directly into the mouth. Alternatively, you can use a nebulizer with tiny vials of medicine. Sit upright when you administer the medication to ensure your lungs get all the medicine.
If you don’t feel better after 20 minutes, you might need medical attention from paramedics. In general, when your rescue medicines no longer perform their job well enough, and you experience frequent symptoms, it is time to re-configure your asthma treatment plan with your doctor.
Long-Term Control Medicine
Control medications are designed to reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms over the long term. They are different from quick-relief rescue medications that alleviate an immediate attack.
Long-term asthma medications are designed to prevent and reduce airway inflammation that results in asthma symptoms. These medications must be taken daily to reduce or even eliminate your asthma flare-ups. Take note of the following medications that have proven to be quite effective:
- Anti-inflammatories: These can be a corticosteroid taken with an inhaler or orally. This is an anti-inflammatory that will minimize swelling in the airways and alleviate mucus production to make breathing easier.
- Anticholinergics: This is usually combined with the anti-inflammatories to help relax the muscles around the airways.
- Long-acting bronchodilators: This is used in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory to ensure your bronchioles remain open. Bronchi spams are mitigated to increase airflow into the lungs.
- Biologic Drugs: This injection, administered weekly, can help people with severe asthma. Some refer to this as immuno-therapy.
- Bronchial Thermoplasty: This modern treatment utilizes an electrode to heat areas within the lungs. The heat then reduces the muscle size and prevents it from constricting to assure better airflow. This is only intended for people with severe asthma.
Lifestyle Changes That Help Reduce Asthma Symptoms
Doctors often recommend various lifestyle changes and at-home strategies to cope with this disease. Avoid triggers and minimize exposure to allergens like certain smells or foods. Take preventive maintenance medication daily with the correct dosing. It would also help to do the following:
- Eat a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory foods. Ensure your diet avoids any trigger foods. (If a certain food allergy can trigger your asthma, eliminate that food from your diet.)
- Avoid your triggers when possible (for example, practice stress-reducing activities if stress triggers asthma)
- Minimize your exposure to any allergens that trigger your asthma, such as certain household products, dust or pollen.
- Take your prescribed medication correctly, at the right time, and at the right dose.
- Maintain a healthy weight as excess weight makes it harder to breathe
- Perform regular cardio or aerobic exercise to improve your cardiovascular endurance (and if you have exercise-induced asthma, follow your respiratory specialist’s plan to perform exercise safely while building your endurance.) Improving cardiovascular endurance is important because it improves both lung health and heart health.
- Manage stress and emotional state, as this can exacerbate your condition. Try counselling and regular exercise to improve your emotional state.
Experiment With Different Asthma Treatment Plans
Through trial-and-error, you’ll figure out which asthma treatment options work best for managing your asthma. It could be a combination of treatment methods that work for you. For example, it might work for you to combine a priority of avoiding certain allergens with quick-relief inhalers to fall back on.
If you suffer from asthma symptoms that seem to be worsening, such as frequent wheezing, coughing or trouble breathing that happens often, consult your doctor. For anyone with asthma, seeking treatment early can prevent exacerbation of symptoms and can also prevent long-term lung damage. That’s another reason to see your doctor if your symptoms are worsening.
Try your best to cooperate with your doctor’s treatment plan to keep your disease under control. Experiment with other treatment plans (or a combination of them) if one isn’t working. Eventually, you should find an asthma treatment plan that helps you control and manage your asthma symptoms.
This achievement not only allows you to live a normal life practically symptom-free but also stave off a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
Remember, a severe asthma attack can take your life. It’s imperative to take this condition seriously and work with a doctor to have an asthma treatment plan that works for you. Long-term control medications should be taken daily, in the proper dosage. This type of medication is for maintenance of asthma management, and rescue medications such as inhalers are for sudden onset of asthma symptoms. You need medical attention if you see no improvements after using your medications and inhalers. Asthma can worsen over time. Therefore, you need to meet with your doctor and visit respiratory clinics regularly to monitor your condition and make adjustments to the treatment plan.
Educate Yourself With A Genetic Test
A DNA test from CircleDNA can help you find out how genetically susceptible you are to this disease. When you educate yourself about various diseases and your genetic risk through CircleDNA, you can get a diagnosis and learn to avoid the triggers. If you are asthmatic, it is important to take a proactive approach by taking your condition seriously and staying on top of your medication, nutrition, and other lifestyle habits. This will manage your asthma symptoms and improve your quality of life.