What is Asthma?

Asthma is a common condition affecting 1-in-10 children and 1-in-20 adults. Asthma  affects the airways, the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lung, by causing inflammation and a spasm of the small muscles in the lung’s tubes.

In asthma, the airways become over-sensitive; meaning that they react to things that wouldn’t usually cause a problem, such as cold air or dust.

Asthma may occur alone or may be found in conjunction with eczema and hay-fever, a condition known as atopy Asthma symptoms may also be caused by exercise, irritants or occupational exposure to certain chemicals and materials.

If you think you may have asthma, you should arrange an appointment to speak with a healthcare professional.

 

Symptoms of Asthma:

The most common symptoms of asthma are

  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Breathlessness
  • Chest tightness

 

Inhalers for Asthma?

There are two main types of inhalers for treating asthma

  • “Reliever” inhalers. Relievers are very useful when feeling wheezy .
    If you have a cold you may need to take extra, I often tell people 4 puffs 4 times a day for 4 days. This can often stop the cold “going to the chest” and avoiding a trip to see a doctor.
    Reliever inhalers are very useful in exercise induced asthma and can be used before play to stop symptoms.
  • “Preventer” inhalers. Many people with asthma will need preventive inhalers. These need to be taken daily and work to reduce inflammation in the airways, reducing symptoms and improving lung function.
  • Other forms of preventive medication can be very helpful in treating asthma depending on the triggers for symptoms. These include but are not limited to:
    • Anti-histamines
    • Steroid nasal sprays
    • Tablets such as montelukast inhibitors

 

Important Points to Remember

  • If you regularly need your reliever medicine more than twice a week, speak to your doctor about getting better preventive medication.
  • Allergies such as tree pollen, mould and house dust can all aggravate asthma. If you suffer with allergies, treating allergies appropriately can drastically reduce asthma symptoms
  • Steroids. Steroids are important but can be prescribed a little too often. They work well but do have some undesirable side-effects, especially in children. If your child has responded well to steroids previously but your doctor isn’t keen to prescribe them again, ask the doctor to explain why. If has hard not to be given something which worked well before but it is important to use these only when clinically necessary. Often increasing reliever medication early will negate the need for steroids.

 

Above is meant to be introductory information on asthma and its treatments. It is not meant to be an exhaustive resource or used for medical guidance. If you would like more information on asthma you can visit Asthma.ie or click here to book an appointment with one of our doctors.