Health Focus: Asthma

 

What You Should Know About Asthma

Asthma patients know that the best asthma attack is the one that never happens. Fortunately, there are asthma treatments and medications available that help prevent attacks — not just treat them.

 

In the United States alone, over 20 million people live with asthma. It's the cause of nearly 500,000 hospital stays each year. Asthma affects people of any age, race or sex. Many have only mild symptoms, but others may have more frequent, severe attacks. These attacks can last anywhere from minutes to days.

 

During an asthma attack, the airways become inflamed and begin to tighten and close up. Symptoms include coughing, tightness in the chest, wheezing and shortness of breath.

 

Have you explored the latest treatment options?

If you have mild asthma, using a bronchiodilator may be enough. This treatment helps stop asthma attacks by relaxing the muscles in your air tubes. The airway is opened making it easier to breathe.

 

If, however, you have severe asthma and find yourself experiencing frequent attacks, your doctor may recommend preventive medication. Anti-inflammatory medications help keep asthma attacks from ever starting. These medicines work to keep your airways open all of the time.

 

Inhaled corticosteroids such as beclomethasone, triamcinoline, flunisolide, fluticasone and budesonide are the most commonly used corticosteroids.

 

Many people confuse corticosteroids with the steroids that athletes take; they are not the same and do not have the same dangerous side effects.

 

Talk to your doctor about which medications are right for you.

 

Asthma is often unpredictable, but with education and proper care, it can be controlled.

Learn more about asthma at http://www.aafa.org.

 

(Rev. 10-2010)