Asthma

Written by eHealth Navigator

What is Asthma?
Asthma is a disease of the lungs. The airways of people who have asthma are extra sensitive to the things they're allergic to (called allergens) and to other irritating things in the air (called irritants).

Asthma symptoms start when allergens or other irritants cause the lining of the airways to become inflamed (swollen) and narrow. The muscles around the airways can then spasm (contract rapidly), causing the airways to narrow even more. When the lining of the airways is inflamed, it produces more mucus. The mucus clogs the airways and further blocks the flow of air. This is called an "asthma attack."

Treatment of your symptoms involves avoiding things that cause asthma attacks, keeping track of your symptoms and taking medicine.

How can I avoid allergens and irritants?
If pollen and mold cause your symptoms, use your air conditioner and try to keep the windows of your home and car closed. Change the filter on your heating and cooling systems frequently.

To keep mold down, clean and air out bathrooms, kitchens and basements often. Keep the level of humidity under 50%. You can do this with an air conditioner or a dehumidifier.

People who are allergic to dust are actually allergic to the droppings of dust mites. To reduce dust mites in your home, wash bedsheets weekly in hot water (warmer than 130°F). Cover mattresses and pillows in airtight covers and remove carpets and drapes. If you must have carpet, you can treat it with chemicals to help reduce dust mites. Try to avoid stuffed animals, dried flowers and other things that catch dust.

Pets can cause problems if you're allergic to them. If you have a pet, keep it out of your bedroom.

Don't allow smoking in your house or car. Tobacco smoke can make your asthma worse.

How do I control my asthma symptoms?
Treatment of your symptoms involves avoiding things that cause asthma attacks, keeping track of your symptoms and taking medicine.

Things that trigger an asthma attack:
•  Air pollution
•  Dust
•  Mold
•  Pollen
•  Tobacco smoke
•  Pet dander
•  Exercise
•  Changes in temperature
•  Some foods
•  Sulfite (food preservative in red wine, beer, salad bars, dehydrated soups and other foods)
•  Aspirin, or ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
•  Heartburn
•  Sinus infections
•  Strong emotions
•  Perfume
•  Spray-on deodorants
•  Viruses

What medicines are used to treat asthma?
Asthma medicines can generally be divided into two groups: medicines to prevent attacks (controller medicines) and medicines to treat attacks (sometimes called rescue medicines).

Your doctor will talk to you about these medicines and what to do if you have an asthma attack.
 

Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2014 10:05AM