The keys to preventing and managing any disease are knowledge, awareness and a committed health care team. When it comes to Asthma, experts have determined that while it is not often possible to prevent the disease, you can control it effectively with the right combination of medication under a physician’s regular care. We can help by telling you about new Asthma resources and medications as they become available to you.
Startling Asthma Statistics
“More than 300 million individuals worldwide have asthma. Depending on the country, between 1 and 18 percent of the population struggle with this respiratory ailment. Only about 250,000 deaths each year result from the disease, affirming good asthma management practices can minimize the dangers.”
Asthma Risk Factors
Some people are genetically predisposed for developing asthma. If you live and work in a city, you may encounter environmental triggers that put you at higher risk for asthma, too. High concentrations of allergens in the workplace and air pollution outdoors could trigger respiratory problems.
Smoking, and secondhand smoke, present serious respiratory risks. Inhaling smoke augments your chance of an allergic reaction and interferes with normal breathing. If you already have asthma, tobacco smoke increases the severity of your symptoms, making the disease more difficult to keep under control.
Symptoms of Asthma
The symptoms of asthma include one or more of the following:
• Shortness of breath
• Tightness in the lungs/chest
You may experience more severe symptoms seasonally, at night and directly following exercise.
Asthma Prevention and Treatments
Drugs designed for asthma maintenance fall into one of two categories: controllers and relievers. Controllers are those medications, such as Glucocorticosteroids inhalers, that you use every day to minimize your symptoms. Glucocorticosteroids are anti-inflammatory which reduce inflammation in your airways, control airway sensitivity and minimize the frequency of asthma attacks. You must take them on an ongoing basis to control the disease.
Advair is a controller medication containing Fluticasone, a steroid that blocks inflammation, and Salmeterol, which relaxes the muscles in your bronchial area to ease breathing. You and your physician should discuss the best type of controller for your specific maintenance program. You can find Advair information online or at your Doctor’s office.
Relievers are those inhaled medications that provide immediate help for Bronchospasms and acute asthmatic episodes. They deliver a quick dose of relief when exercise or other triggers cause inflammation. You use them as necessary at the lowest dose possible.
A Global Initiative for Asthma Management and Prevention
The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) of 1993 changed the way the medical community and asthmatic individuals regard the disease. Rather than treating asthma symptoms according to their severity, GINA advocates control of symptoms, from mild to severe, as an ongoing, cooperative effort between you and your physician.
GINA has five main components:
Guided Self-Management in a Doctor-Patient Partnership
A cooperative relationship with your health care team provides you with the knowledge and skills to take the lead in managing your chronic illness. You and your doctor should develop a plan with treatment goals, a self-monitoring schedule and periodic reviews.
Identifying and Reducing Exposure to Risk Factors
You can stay healthier by effectively managing risk factors. Minimizing your exposure to tobacco smoke is critical, as stated earlier. You can eliminate your children’s or Grandchildren’s exposure to tobacco and reduce their risk of developing respiratory problems, too. Also, avoid workplace allergens and address any mold, pollen, dust mites and pet dander present in your home.
Assessing, Treating and Monitoring Asthma
With your doctor, you should come up with a long-term plan for the ongoing management of your asthma and its symptoms. The physician assesses how well your management plan is working through periodic checkups. He or she works with you to make medication and/or behavioral changes to improve management. Finally, schedule consistent follow-up visits to promote long-term success.
Exacerbation’s (more commonly called asthma attacks) are those episodes when your symptoms reach crisis levels. These episodes can be acute or, in rare cases, fatal. If you experience acute exacerbation’s, your best choice may be inpatient care. You and your doctor can determine the severity of your episodes and the best management practices for your situation.
Special Considerations Such as Pregnancy, Surgery and Disease
Working closely with your medical team is critical if you have other health concerns that affect your asthma management program.
By avoiding risk factors and following a physician-approved asthma management plan, you have the ability to get your life back to normal. This means enjoying the people and activities you love with confidence, knowing your asthma is well under control.