Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects people of any age and is generally considered to be incurable but livable with. With correct monitoring and treatment, asthma should not be a life-threatening illness – and even when it is, only a small percentage of sufferers have severe enough asthma to warrant special measures.
Understanding your asthma is the key to controlling it and you can do this by learning how to use your MDI inhalers correctly. By doing this your Asthma should not dominate your life no matter how severe your asthma is. Most sufferers continue with their usual lives with no issues whatsoever.
My Daughter is a prime example of someone who has chronic asthma, but lives a normal life. In fact when a child, she swam, was in a dance troupe, doing jazz ballet, had a pony on which she went riding everyday. Groomed and mucked out the stables. Granted, there times if she caught a virus, where she was slowed down some, however, life went on as normal as she was given her medication correctly and ALWAYS had her Reliever/Rescue Inhaler at arms length.
One must realize that when properly medicated, asthma is, for the majority, easily dealt with.
The key weapons in your arsenal against asthma are your inhalers – you must have a complete understanding of your medication or your child’s medication.
The first step in getting to know your metered dose inhaler is to understand the medicine that it contains. Asthma medications are divided into 2 types:
Preventative inhalers are exactly as the name suggests, and are to be used as prevention rather than a cure for asthma. They tend to be steroid-based, and are designed to prevent asthma attacks.
“Reliever or “Rescue” Inhalers”
If the preventative inhaler has not been able to fully do its job, the reliever steps in. The reliever is the inhaler you need when you are suffering an attack or when the symptoms of a pending attack are present and is designed to combat the problem quickly and effectively.
I will not go into which is which and how to identify which one etc in this blog post, as different countries have different colored inhalers plus each person is an individual will have an asthma plan to suit THEIR needs. (If you do have one, you need to talk to your doctor!)
I advise you to speak to your Respiratory Physician to ensure you know which inhaler is which and how and when to take if effectively, plus ask for a Patient Advice sheet on each medication, so you fully understand what each inhaler contains, any side effects – for instance my daughter used to get the shakes for a few minutes after taking one particular medication – this apparently was normal so the more you know about the medication being prescribed the better.
Until Next time,
I wish you and yours the best of Health!
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It is important to note that information contained in this post is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner
Question: I’ve heard something called the “hygiene hypothesis” being referenced when discussing asthma. What is this?
The “hygiene hypothesis” is a school of thought presented by certain medical studies, discovered during investigations in to why asthma is seemingly on the rise. While by no means a new condition, cases of asthma have been steadily rising since records began. Certain medical studies have tried to find out why this is, and along with environmental factors, the hygiene hypothesis has been suggested for this rise in cases.
“Hygiene hypothesis” is the term used to describe the fact that, as a species, we are far more hygienic than we have ever been. Most households use strong cleaning products, and young children are not as exposed to dirt and bacteria as they were in the 1950s and 1960s. While this cannot really be seen as a bad things, some studies have suggested that it may have contributed to a rise in asthma cases.
Bacteria in the air, when inhaled, is aggravating – and can cause temporary inflammation of the lungs. This usually manifests itself in coughing. Young children in the earlier parts of the 20th century would have had daily exposure to bacteria due to less rigorous hygiene and cleaning standards; as a result, the bronchi of their lungs would appear irritated. The body would then learn how to deal with this, and calm the bronchi down.
Asthma can essentially be described as a irritation of the bronchi. As children nowadays are not exposed to the same levels of bacteria, their bodies do not learn to ‘calm’ the bronchi in their early life. This, some suggest, has lead to a larger number of asthma cases, as when presented with bacteria now, the body is not as well-versed in how to react.
Although asthma is defined as a chronic (i.e. long term) illness, it is not usually life threatening – and for most sufferers becomes more of an annoyance than a genuine threat to their well-being. As one of the most common non-life-threatening illnesses in the world, asthma is well studied by medical research scientists, and as a result there are several treatments available.
By far the best known asthma treatment is via medicine inhalation. The primary medicines used in inhalers are beta-2 agonists (for relieving an acute attack of asthma) and corticosteroids (for preventing attacks). These medications come in a variety of doses depending on the severity of the sufferers’ condition, and are inhaled directly in to the lungs using an inhaler (sometimes known as a ‘puffer’). As these treatments go directly to the source of the issue by entering the lungs immediately, they have long been proven to be the most effective asthma treatment.
Another option is steroid treatment, usually in tablet form. However, a course of steroids is usually only ever prescribed following a severe asthma attack – usually of the kind of severity that results in hospitalization The vast majority of sufferers will never need anything beyond their combination of inhalers to deal with their illness.
The concluding option is also only used in the case of a severe attack, though is an option during the attack rather than following it. Nebulizers create a mixture of water and air, through which one can inhale a purer form of the usual medication used in inhalers. Nebulizers tend to be carried on emergency calls and at hospitals, though some sufferers’ of extremely severe asthma may be offered one at home.