Know Your Options: Different Types of Asthma Treatments

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, 1 in 12 people or about 12 million people are afflicted with asthma in the US alone. It is one of the deadliest of all respiratory ailments.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the airways of the lungs. This condition occurs when inflammation causes narrowed, swollen airways that lead to difficulty in breathing. During an attack, the chest tightens due to inflammation and increase mucus in the airways. This causes wheezing and coughing. Most patients develop asthma in childhood but health experts say allergies and asthma will develop at any age.

Unfortunately, asthma has no known cure. Asthma has different triggers and there is no single treatment that cures all types of asthma. The type of treatment to use will depend on environmental triggers, the type of asthma, and the type of allergens that trigger an attack. In today’s post, we are listing down the common treatments for asthma:

Steroids and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Inhaled steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs are the most common treatment for asthma. These lifesaving medications work by reducing the swelling of the airways and reducing mucus production. When the swelling goes down, the airways become less sensitive to allergens. This means, continuous dose of steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs could minimize the sensitivity of a person to asthma triggers.

Bronchodilators

A bronchodilator is an asthma treatment that dilates the bronchi and bronchioles of the airways. It increases airflow to the lungs, improving breathing during an asthma attack. Bronchodilators can be used to treat obstructive lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma.

There are two types of bronchodilators, short-acting and long-acting bronchodilators. Short-acting bronchodilators work quickly to relieve wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath during an attack. It can be used prior or post-workout to reduce exercise-induced asthma. However, short-acting bronchodilators are not suitable for daily use.

Long-acting bronchodilators are formulated with steroids to provide lasting relief from asthma. This treatment is best for patients with ongoing asthma symptoms despite daily treatments.

Inhalers

One of the most common treatments for asthma is an asthma inhaler or puffer. This treatment comes in different formulations and is administered in different ways. This device delivers medication into the lungs via the mouth. Inhalers are used to treat asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD.

Nebulizer

A nebulizer is a medical device that delivers asthma medication in the form of an inhalable mist. A nebulizer is used to treat a wide range of respiratory ailments including cystic fibrosis, asthma, and COPD. A nebulizer is also an ideal asthma treatment for children, infants, and older adults who do not know how to use an asthma inhaler.

Oral Corticosteroids

Oral corticosteroid or prednisone is a medication used to treat chronic asthma or exacerbation. These treatments will be taken over a course of a week or two. Taking oral corticosteroids every day effectively reduces asthma attacks. That said, you need to talk to your doctor about the right dose of oral corticosteroids to take. These drugs should not be taken for an extended period because they can cause serious and permanent side effects.