Asthma is a condition that affects the respiratory tract and the ability to breath. Anyone can develop this disease, however, this condition is often diagnosed in children and adolescents. Asthma is characterized by increased mucus production and inflammation of the airways leading to narrowing of these passages. An “asthma attack” occurs when these pathological changes are aggravated, oftentimes in the case of exposure to one’s triggers, and can severely limit the ability to breathe. Although the exact cause of asthma is unknown, certain trends have been identified that put some at risk than others. Those who have a family history of asthma are at higher risk of developing the disease. Also, people who have been exposed to toxins, such as environmental pollutants or cigarette smoke, or have been previously diagnosed with allergies are at higher risk of developing asthma. Although asthma has no cure, control of symptoms and exacerbations can be achieved with proper treatment and adherence to prescribed therapies. Keys to successful management of this disease are to identify what worsens your symptoms or causes an attack and learning proper inhaler technique for prescribed medications.
What triggers asthma?
When do you see asthma symptoms?
- During or after exercise
- When exposed to common asthma triggers
- During certain seasons
- After laughing or crying
- At night or early morning
Asthma is often managed using inhalers that deliver medications directly to the lungs to reduce inflammation, open the airways, and decrease mucus secretions. For mild cases, a “rescue” inhaler is used to provide quick relief when needed for attacks. In moderate to severe cases, a “maintenance” or “controller” inhaler is used on a daily basis to provide long-term control in addition to a “rescue” inhaler is used for attacks.
Properly using your inhaler helps ensure the medications are able to work in your lungs. Each inhaler has unique instructions and may require different administration techniques. A controller inhaler should be used daily to manage symptoms and prevent attacks. A rescue inhaler should be used when you are experiencing an exacerbation of your symptoms- likely due to one of your triggers. The primary way to prevent asthma attacks is to identify and avoid factors that trigger them. If you utilize your rescue inhaler more than two times a week, you should notify your physician as this may be a sign that your asthma is not adequately controlled. Ask your pharmacist or physician for instructions or visit www.use-inhalers.com for more information on inhaler use
What to ask yourself?
- Do I experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing, or wheezing?
- How do I use my inhaler correctly?
- What happens if I still have trouble breathing?
- When do I need to see my doctor?
- Do I use a rescue inhaler more than twice a week?
- What’s my asthma action plan?
- Could I be making a mistake with my inhaler administration?
- Does my inhaler need “primed”?
- Do I know what triggers my asthma symptoms?
If you think you might have asthma, have been diagnosed with this condition, or have questions regarding your medication please speak to your doctor or pharmacist.