Asthma Concerns Are Addressed Through Treatment
Asthma is a respiratory disorder that affects nearly 26 million people in the United States. Many people with asthma begin the condition in infancy or childhood, but others do not receive a diagnosis until they reach their adult years. It is possible for children to outgrow the condition, but when it begins after age 18 it will typically be a concern for life. Boys have asthma more often than girls, but in adulthood, it is women that are more commonly affected by the condition.
About 3,400 Americans die each year due to asthma-related problems. Fatalities from the disease continue to decline as do the number of asthma attacks and the percentage of the population with asthma. Improvements in treatment and the diagnosis of asthma have made it easier for people to live comfortably and are helping to reduce the severity of their attacks.
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma can have a range of symptoms that may vary between people and attacks. Wheezing or a whistling sound during exhaling can occur. Chest tightness or the feeling that there is a weight on the chest may begin. The inability to pull in enough air may occur and will often begin along with the tightness. Asthmatics often suffer from a shortness of breath and a constant non-productive cough that can worsen chest pain and tightness.
Sensitivity to certain smells or chemicals, allergies and respiratory illnesses like a cold can cause asthma attacks. Exercise-induced asthma causes sufferers to experience more breathlessness or attacks whenever they are active. Even temperature extremes could lead to the onset of an asthma attack. Many people with asthma will have their condition improve or worsen without warning.
A warning sign of the need for medical help is when someone is straining their shoulders, neck and upper chest to pull in enough air. People during an attack may struggle to speak, breathe rapidly, and appear pale. Loss of consciousness or lips or fingernails that turn blue are obvious signs of the need for medical attention.
Asthma Treatments and Inhalers
Treatment for asthma typically includes a control or maintenance medication and a rescue inhaler. The assigning of colors ensures that the asthmatic or a friend or family member can grab the right inhaler at once. Control medication is in a brown inhaler and rescue medicine is blue.
The control is taken daily to prevent the occurrence of attacks and to keep symptoms under control. The medication is typically a steroid that will not reverse the symptoms of an asthma attack once it begins.
A rescue inhaler is kept nearby in case of an attack. It can almost instantly begin to open the airways and make breathing easier. The use of a rescue medicine (often a type of albuterol) will not prevent future asthma attacks.
Proventil is another medication for asthma that comes in a yellow inhaler. The medication is a type of bronchodilator that uses albuterol to stop an attack and prevent shortness of breath for asthmatics and patients with COPD. It is also a medication useful for people with exercise-induced asthma.
Severe cases of asthma may require people to have a nebulizer in their home. A nebulizer uses a liquid medication that becomes an aerosol that sprays through a mask worn by the patient. It gets more medication into the lungs faster when the individual cannot breathe deeply enough to receive relief from their rescue inhaler. Young children and infants often need this form of treatment because they are too young to use a traditional inhaler correctly.
Prednisone is a steroid that acts as an anti-inflammatory. It is given intravenously to patients in emergency rooms during a severe asthma attack and prescribed as an oral medication when the symptoms of the condition worsen. It is safe for short term use, but not as a long-term control medicine because of the potential side effects when used continuously.
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