Help for Asthma Patients
Asthma is a condition in which the airways are constricted, leading to wheezing and difficulty in breathing. The airways in the lungs known as bronchial tubes become inflamed and swollen, blocking the air passage. It is not known precisely why the airways get constricted in certain persons. Symptoms can range from mild and occasional wheezing to severe wheezing and breathlessness. Asthma can attack any person at any age. If you are an asthmatic patient, there are a number of factors that can make your symptoms worse. These include infections, pollens, molds, cold or humid air, vigorous exercise, smoking including passive smoking, stress and becoming emotional, dust, and allergy to specific foods, medicines, or animals.
In most cases your doctor can easily diagnose the disease from typical symptoms. Sometimes the diagnosis is not so straightforward, or you may need to confirm the diagnosis. In these cases, two simple tests are performed. These tests involve breathing into a measuring device that can measure the quantity and rate of airflow from your lungs. A peak flow meter is a common device used for this purpose. This device measures the maximum speed of air that you can blow. This indicates the peak flow and is characterized by low and variable values in asthma patients. If over a period of a few days, the person records low values of peak flows, which are variable, asthma could be suspected.
The first thing that you should know about asthma is that it cannot be cured. However the symptoms caused by asthma can be relieved by avoiding the triggers that cause asthma and by taking medication.
The most common treatment for asthma involves the use of inhalers. Inhalers deliver a small quantity of the medicine directly into the air passage and relieve the blockage. Inhalers can be taken to get relief from the problem as and when it occurs or can be taken as a preventive medicine every day to prevent the occurrence of asthma. Relieving inhalers are fine if you have a problem once in a while, but if you have to take them regularly, say more than three or four times in a week, then it is better that you go in for the preventive inhaler. Preventive inhalers usually contain steroids that can reduce the inflammation in the airways. Sometimes the symptoms may not be controlled by steroids alone. In such cases a longer acting medicine that functions like a relieving inhaler may be prescribed in addition to steroids.
In a few cases, where the inhalers alone are not effective in controlling the problem additional medicines in the form of tablets or liquids may be prescribed.
It is advisable to have preventive treatment if the asthma typically occurs during or after exercise. In this case the affected person should take a preventive inhaler before the exercise. Dosage may also be increased when the person has a cough or cold.
Ways to help yourself
If you are suffering from asthma, there are a few simple precautions that you should take. Proper use of the in halers is vital to getting relief. Make sure you know how to use your inhaler and are using it properly. If you are in doubt see your doctor for help. If the symptoms are not fully controlled with the treatment, you should consult your doctor. If severity of the attack increases at any point, see you doctor immediately.
Various resources are available to help you cope with asthma. These include reading resources, resource directories and help groups. You can find out the resources that are available in your area or on the Internet.
About the Author: John Henderson is a natural health practitioner and author of several articles on arthritis Site