By Dr. Tina Singh, General Physician
When the airways become narrow or start swelling, it leads to production of mucus in excess. This causes breathing difficulties and when you have trouble breathing and can take only short breaths. This medical condition is called chronic asthma.
Although asthma can, for some, be only a minor nuisance, for others, it can worsen to the extent of becoming life-threatening. It cannot be cured, but the symptoms change over time, so treatment should be adjusted according to the symptoms.
Symptoms of asthma
1. Tightness or pain in the chest, difficulty in breathing
2. Being unable to take long breaths; short breaths lead to persistent coughing and over exertion of the respiratory system
3. When you exhale, you can hear a wheezing sound
4. You have continuous trouble sleeping due to constant impairment of breathing
5. The chest may appear slightly inflated and ache when touched
Treatment for asthma
1. Long-term medication for asthma control
– Corticosteroids that are inhaled
These drugs are anti-inflammatory. Fluticasone, budesonide, flunisolide and ciclesonide are the examples of corticosteroids used to treat asthma. These need to be used for some days in order to get maximum relief.
These are medicines that are inhaled and they include montelukast, zafirlukast and zileuton. These provide relief from asthma symptoms for twenty-four hours.
2. Short-acting Medications that provide quick relief
Beta agonists that are short-acting
These medications are administered by using an inhaler, reducing them to fine mist, to be passed into your swollen airway. The medications mainly include albuterol and levalbuterol
Corticosteroids that are oral or intravenous
Methylprednosine and prednosine relieve asthma attacks and can relax the narrowed airway quickly. However, they should not be used in excess, since there are a number of side effects.