You can breathe easier with us : Aspira
Asthma and other allergies are on the steady rise, each year asthma accounts to 2 million emergency room visits.
Feeling for an Asthma patient is like being a fish out of water, we hope to educate you today, as awareness is the first step to understanding.
Asthma : Aspira Care
Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. During an attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes (airways) swells, causing the airways to narrow, turn more sensitive to irritants in the environment, and thus reducing the flow of air into and out of the lungs. The causes of asthma are not completely understood.
However, risk factors for developing asthma include inhaling its “triggers”, such as allergens (some common to all and some individualized), tobacco smoke and chemical irritants. Several patients with asthma may also have allergic rhinitis which is characterized by sneezing and “runny” nose. It can start at any age. About half of all people with the disease tend to have their first symptoms by the age of ten years, and many children with asthma have had their first attack before the age of six. the disease cannot be cured, but appropriate management can control the disorder and enable people to enjoy a good quality of life.
Symptoms of Asthma
Recurrent episodes of wheezing
Shortness of breath
Causes of Asthma
The exact cause of asthma is yet not known. But there are certain risk factors that are associated with asthma. It is probably caused by interplay of hereditary and environmental factors.
Some of the factors include:
Parents who have asthma (heredity).
Allergens from dust, animal fur, cockroaches, mold, and pollens from trees, grasses, and flowers
Sulfites in foods and drinks
Viral upper respiratory infections, such as colds
Physical activity, including exercise
An inherited tendency to develop allergies, called atopy (AT-o-pe). Children with eczema or food allergy are more likely than other children to develop asthma.
Irritants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, chemicals or dust in the workplace and sprays (such as hair spray).
Medicines such as aspirin or other non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and nonselective beta-blockers.
Contact with some airborne allergens or exposure to some viral infections in infancy or in early childhood when the immune system is developing.
How to manage Asthma?
- Medications: Medicines in asthma are generally given through the inhaled route. “Metered dose” and “dry powder” inhalers are equally effective for long-term use, the “nebulized” form being generally used during acute attacks. Inhaling a drug is an effective way of taking an asthma medicine as it goes straight to the lungs, with very little ending up elsewhere in the body. There are two types of inhaled medications. Since it is an inflammatory disease, preventer medication should not be discontinued without medical advice.
- “Airway-opening medication or Quick-Relief” (Reliever) inhaler: The inhaler usually contains a short-acting beta 2-agonist. It works by relaxing the muscles surrounding the narrowed airways. Examples of reliever medicines include salbutamol, levo-salbutamol and terbutaline. They are utilized in stopping asthma attacks.
- “Controller medication” (Preventer) inhaler: It works to reduce the amount of inflammation and ‘twitchiness’ in the airways and prevent asthma attacks occurring. Examples of preventer inhalers are beclomethasone, budesonide, fluticasone and mometasone; often combination of these drugs with long-acting bronchodilators like salmeterol and formoterol are used as preventers to stop asthma attacks from starting and thus protect lung function.
- Short courses of corticosteroid and other drugs (oral or injectable) may be required during acute attacks and are to be used after medical advice only.
- An asthma patient should learn from the care-provider the correct method of using the inhalation devices (metered-dose inhalers, dry-powder inhalers, spacers, etc) used for the medication and always carry the quick-reliever medication with him/her.
How to achieve control over Asthma
Although not curable, good control of asthma can be easily achieved. When under control, the patient can lead a perfectly normal life, work, attend classes, take part in sports, avoid most attacks and sleep well. In order to achieve asthma control the medication has to be taken as advised by the physician and one should also avoid things that trigger asthma attacks which may include animals with fur, cigarette smoke, smoke, dust from sweeping, dust in beds and pillows, strong smells, pollen, inclement weather, and colds. One should also well acquainted with symptoms and signs of worsening of asthma control and know how to respond to it.
Preventer medicines (inhaled form) can, if so advised, be taken regularly on long term basis and are not habit forming. It may be necessary to take the preventive medicine every day if one coughs and wheezes or has a tight chest more than twice a week, wakes up at night due to asthma attacks or has to use the reliever medication more often than twice a week to stop an attack. A carefully decided self-monitoring of symptoms as well as an asthma treatment plan should be designed for every patient by the care provider and discussed in detail.
Diwali – a Festival of Lights
A trigger for Allergies
Diwali – a fun time – preparations for festival of light are in full swing. Lights, and color full rangolis beautify the houses, children full of excitement wear new dresses, eat goodies and burst crackers.
As a result pollution levels on Diwali increase several fold heavy metals like potassium chlorate, sulfur, arsenic sulphide, aluminium and’ copper are spread abundantly in the air due to high levels of residual particulate matter (RPM) and suspended particulate matter (SPM) released from fire crackers. These pollutants are hazardous triggers for many health problems including asthma allergic bronchitis, rhinitis, skin reactions, eye burns, sinusitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), wheezing, shortness of breath to name a few.
- Exercise caution for a safe Diwali
- Allergic people should avoid coming in contact with crackers
- Always keep a handkerchief covering your mouth and nose – it helps in keeping the smoke away to some extent.
- Use N95 mask reduces particulate inhalants from getting into lungs
- Stay hydrated
- Allergic cough and breathing problems in little children can be avoided by keeping them indoor
- Keep inhalants, nebulizers, allergy kits ready for adverse reactions
- Keep the doors, window’s closed
- Immediately contact emergency services for any untoward reactions
- Be Safe – Enjoy Festival of Lights not pollutants
Know your allergies , get tested at Aspira
Common Myths about Asthma
- A child with asthma will outgrow the disease: The disease would probably become milder and less symptomatic. Although asthma is a chronic condition, there are excellent means to control this disorder.
- Patients with asthma should not take part in physical exercise: Exercise is good for asthma patients just as well as those without it. Proper medical advice is essential before undertaking such activities.
- Asthma cure can be achieved with transfer of residence to a “better” climate: Proper use of medication and usual precautions at home and workplace is most important for achieving control.
- “Inhalers” are the last resort for control: Asthma medication is ideally administered by the inhaled route so as to ensure prompt and targeted drug delivery with least side effects. It is true for even the mildest form of the disease.
- “Inhalers” are addictive or habit forming: These are not habit forming medicines at all. However, it being a chronic disease, they may be required to be administered on a long term basis under proper medical guidance.
- Steroids used in asthma are dangerous drugs: The benefits of inhaled corticosteroids that are used in asthma are far more than the risks involved. This is true even in growing children. The use of medication should be under medical guidance.
- Asthma is a psychological disease: Asthma is NOT a psychological disease although emotional factors can trigger an attack.
- Asthma is contagious disease: This is not true.
- Asthma patients should avoid “cold” food like milk, curd etc.: There are no food restrictions in asthma. However in case there is an identifiable food item that has been known to trigger an attack in a particular patient, this item must be avoided.
- Regular use of asthma medicines make them ineffective: This is incorrect. Some medicines are effective only if used regularly. Use of any medication should be under medical guidance.
- In children, nebulizers are the ideal method of administering asthma medication: Metered dose inhaler with spacer and mask device are equally effective in drug delivery in small children.