Managing Your Asthma

Learning About Asthma:

images_234Asthma is a serious inflammatory lung disease that for unknown reasons is on the rise in primarily industrialized countries. But it is also seen in less developed areas also. It is a disease that more than 20 million people have in the U.S. and 300 million worldwide are affected with. It is believed to cause approximately 255,000 deaths a year. There are various things that can be done to help control asthmatic episodes which includes knowledge of asthma triggers, self management and lifestyle changes.

Controlling Asthma:

The first thing to do about controlling asthma is to understand it. Asthma is an inflammatory lung disease. Even if there seems to be no symptoms, the asthmatic airway has inflammation. During an asthma episode your airways become narrow from smooth muscle constriction, excess mucous, bronchial wall edema and bronchial hyper-responsive. The lung is reacting to triggers which can be allergens or irritants. It becomes harder to breathe. Damage from chronic airway inflammation leads to airway remodeling and contributes to diminished lung function. With treatment the narrowing for the most part can be reversed so it is considered a reversible airway disease.

Controlling these episodes of asthma attacks are of the utmost importance. It is a commitment to health. Your lifestyle will not be the same as someone who does not have breathing problems. Just popping pills will not control it, ignoring it will not control it but extra effort and changes in behavior will.

Classification of Asthma:

Mild Intermittent:

Daytime symptoms less than than twice a week. Nighttime symptoms less than twice a month. Peak flow 80% or more of baseline.

Mild persistent:

Daytime symptoms more than twice a week, but less than once a day. Nighttime symptoms more than twice a month. Peak flow 80% or more of baseline.

Moderate persistent:

Daytime symptoms every day. Nighttime symptoms more than once a week. Peak flow between 60% to 80% of baseline.

Severe persistent:

Daytime symptoms are continuous. Frequent nighttime symptoms. Peak flow is 60% or less than baseline.

Some clinicians prefer to use the management method based on asthma control

Levels Of Asthma Control:

Controlled:

Daytime symptoms two times or less, no nighttime symptoms,no limitation of activities and no exacerbation. There will be two times or less need for rescue medications per week. Maintain at lowest treatment level.

Partly Controlled:

Daytime symptoms more than twice a week, some nighttime symptoms, some limitation of activities and one or more exacerbation a year. There will be two times or more need for rescue medications per week. Step up treatment until controlled.

Uncontrolled:

Three or more features of partly controlled in one week. Need to step up treatment until asthma is controlled.

Asthma Medications:

asmaThere are long term controller medications and short term relief or rescue medications. All medications have side effects. But the ultimate side effect of not breathing is death. If you are able to manage your asthma naturally with lifestyle changes, then you are doing good. Many asthmatics are not able to because of the severity of their symptoms. They have to take the medicines with the lifestyle changes in order to manage their disease. Just because Aunt Betty was able to maintain her asthma naturally doesn’t mean Cousin Sue can do the same. Her disease process might be different and more complicated. Everyone is different.

The long term controller medications are to be taken daily. They are for keeping control of the inflamed airway by reducing the inflammation that already is there and preventing further inflammation and bronchodilation. These are not rescue medications for immediate relief of an asthma attack. Taking these medications should be done at the same time every day and become a part of everyday routine like combing hair or brushing teeth.

Unfortunately some asthmatics are non-compliant with the medication. Asthma can be a long term chronic illness and medication non-adherence can be lessened due to the seemingly non emergency factor. They might promise themselves that they will follow doctors orders at a later date. The problem of course is the over reliance on the emergency bronchodilators after an attack instead of preventing the attack. One study found that people who regularly took herbal medicines were less compliant with their preventive medications and this gave them negative outcomes. The more medicines that a person has to take the more likely they will not take them all. Economics can be a factor if there is no money to buy all the medicines

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