Article provides advise on Asthma and the
possible Asthma treatments that are now
Understanding Asthma Treatments – Relievers and
Millions of people around the world suffer from Asthma, a chronic
lung condition characterized by difficulty in breathing. During an
asthma attack, the sufferer’s airways become irritated and react by
narrowing and constructing. That causes increased resistance to
airflow, and obstructs the flow of the air to and from the lungs.
How is asthma treated?
Asthma is treated using two main types of medicines:
* Quick Relief Treatments: also called relievers. These give
rapid, short-term treatment and are taken when you have worsening
asthma symptoms that, left untreated, can lead to asthma episodes or
attacks. You will feel the effects of these medicines within
* Long-Term Control Treatments: also called preventers, and are
for people with persistent asthma, who need long-term control
medicines. Preventers are taken every day, usually over long periods
of time, to control chronic (long-term) symptoms and to prevent
asthma episodes or attacks. You will feel the full effects of these
medicines after taking them for a few weeks.
Drugs related to hormones
Drugs, such as those resembling two of our hormones, can help
treat asthma. These two hormones are epinephrine (adrenaline in the
UK) and hydrocortisone (a steroid). Epinephrine is pumped into our
bloodstream when we have a sudden fright or emergency –
psychologists often call this state fright or flight. Epinephrine is
the quick-acting hormone from the middle of the adrenal glands near
our kidneys. It makes your pulse race, your heart thump, and readies
your body for emergency action. In asthma, the medicines which
resemble adrenaline quickly relieve asthma for a short time, and are
from the reliever family.
Hydrocortisone comes from the outer part of our adrenal glands,
called the 'cortex'. It is also partly an “emergency hormone” but it
works much more slowly, for much longer, and in a completely
different way to adrenaline. Medicines which resemble hydrocortisone
slowly allow the lining of air tubes in an asthma sufferer to become
normal. As a result, your asthma becomes less severe and you are
less likely to get asthma attacks. So these steroid medicines are
part of the preventer family. Steroids are the most powerful
preventers currently available.
Other long-term treatments include:
* Long-acting beta-agonists are bronchodilators, not
anti-inflammatory drugs. These medicines are used to help control
moderate and severe asthma and to prevent night-time symptoms.
Long-acting beta-agonists are taken together with inhaled
* Leukotriene modifiers (such as montelukast, zafirlukast, and
zileuton) are long-term control medicines used either alone to treat
mild persistent asthma or together with inhaled corticosteroids to
treat moderate persistent asthma or severe persistent asthma.
* Cromolyn and nedocromil are used to treat
mild persistent asthma.
* Theophylline is used either alone to treat mild persistent
asthma or together with inhaled corticosteroids to treat moderate
persistent asthma. People who take theophylline should have their
blood levels checked to be sure the dose is appropriate.
Be careful. If you stop taking long-term control medicines, your
asthma will likely worsen again.
Inhaled corticosteroids (or steroids for short) are the preferred
treatment for controlling mild, moderate, and severe persistent
asthma. They are safe when taken as directed by your doctor.
Inhaled medicines go directly into your lungs where they are
needed. There are many kinds of inhalers that require different
techniques, and it is important to know how to use your inhaler
Usually the best way to take these medicines is to breathe them
in. That is, you inhale them, through your nose or mouth. The
reasons you inhale them are: * because you need less of the
medicine, * you won't suffer as many side effects, and, * the
medicine works more quickly,
The final point is particularly important
with the adrenaline-like, fast-acting relievers.
Another advantage is that the hydrocortisone-like steroid
preventers you breathe in can be chosen to be biodegradable inside
the body. As a result, then can do their work in the lung, but don't
get much of a chance to produce any side effects in the rest of your
body, because your liver breaks them down.
In some cases, steroid tablets or liquid are used for short times
to bring asthma under control. The tablet or liquid form may also be
used to control severe asthma.
Taking quick relief medicines
Quick relief medicines are used only when needed. A type of quick
relief medicine is a short-acting inhaled bronchodilator.
Bronchodilators work by relaxing the muscles that have tightened
around the airways. They help open up airways quickly and ease
breathing. They are sometimes called "rescue" or "relief" medicines
because they can stop an asthma attack very quickly.
These medicines act quickly but their effects only last for a
short period of time. You should take quick relief medicines when
you first begin to feel asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing,
chest tightness, or shortness of breath. Anyone who has asthma
should always carry one of these inhalers in case of an attack. For
severe attacks, your doctor may also use steroids to treat the
Work closely with your doctor
Many people with asthma need both a short-acting bronchodilator
to use when symptoms worsen and long-term daily asthma control
medication to treat the ongoing inflammation. Over time, your doctor
may need to make changes in your asthma medication. You may need to
increase your dose, lower your dose, or try a combination of
medications. Be sure to work with your doctor to find the best
treatment for your asthma. The goal is to use the least amount of
medicine necessary to control your asthma.
Copyright 2006 David Drinkall
About The Author
David Drinkall is a life-long asthma sufferer and is the
owner of AsthmaExperience.com
- http://www.asthmaexperience.com. He
takes both of the main families of drugs discussed in this
article every day.