Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects people of all ages and walks of life. Varying in intensity from mild to moderate to severe–even life-threatening, asthma requires a long-term treatment plan and quick-relief medications, too. If you wish to control your asthma better, you should know about short-acting drugs.
What Are the Symptoms of Asthma?
Asthma symptoms may come on suddenly in response to several factors in the person’s environment. Often distressing and even life-threatening and requiring urgent to emergent medical treatment, asthma symptoms involve the swelling of smooth muscles in the bronchial tubes. Smaller bronchioles and alveoli (air sacs) become constricted as well as the person experiences:
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing (noticeable on expiration or breathing out)
- Chest tightness and heaviness
- Coughing, particularly at night
- Heavy mucus production
- Facial pallor and dark circles under the eyes
- Lower blood oxygenation (when symptoms are severe)
Typically, people with an asthma attack–mild, moderate, or severe–cannot perform their usual activities of daily living as efficiently as they usually do. Also, exercise becomes difficult, and even ordinary conversation may become labored.
What Triggers Asthma Attacks?
Asthma is different for everyone. However, there are some common triggers that initiate and worsen asthma symptoms. These triggers are::
- An upper respiratory infection, such as the flu or a cold
- Weather extremes–heat, cold, high humidity
- Poor hydration
- Emotional responses, such as crying and laughing
- Stressful situations, such as medical emergencies, confrontational arguments, or problems at work or school
- Allergens, such as pet dander, pollen, mold, aerosol cleaners and fragrances, household dust, and certain foods, such as peanuts and shellfish
- Cigarette smoke
- Air pollution, such as car exhaust
- Some medicines, such as beta-blockers, NSAIDS, and aspirin
Many healthcare providers ask their asthma patients to track their symptoms and record them in a journal. This information helps treatment planning and may prompt the doctor to test the person for allergies to recommend environmental adjustments, such as whole house air filters and stress reduction techniques.
Many asthma care plans include long-acting medications which help prevent symptom flare-ups. Additionally, most asthmatics benefit from short-acting, or quick relief, medications, used singly or in combination with long-acting medications. Your asthma doctor will help you determine what works best for you.
What Are the Quick Relief Medications Asthmatics May Use?
Quick relief medications help people with asthma feel better in minutes. Called bronchodilators, these inhaled medications open tight airways, relax bronchospasms, stop mucus production, and control coughing. One to two metered doses administered through a mouthpiece connected to an aerosol-propelled drug canister usually last four to six hours and may be repeated as directed by the physician. Children who use bronchodilators typically use tube-like spacers to ensure they receive the prescribed dose.
Here are examples of quick-relief medications familiar to most asthmatics.
Albuterol, Levalbuterol, Metaproterenal, and Terbutaline
These inhaled drugs are called short-acting beta-agonists, or SABAs. Patients routinely carry them in a pocket, backpack, or purse for inhalation as needed. While they work quickly and effectively, SABAs can cause some side effects, such as rapid pulse and jitters.
EpiPen and EpiPenJr
Auto-injected epinephrine relieves severe allergy symptoms (anaphylaxis), including respiratory problems, such as asthmatic wheezing, coughing, and constriction of airways. Peanut allergies and insect stings are common triggers for these potentially life-threatening symptoms.
An older drug, Atrovent, is still useful for selected patients with sudden asthma symptoms. As with any of these bronchodilators, Atrovent works best when the asthmatic uses a long-acting inhaled medication to manage symptoms and avoid serious flare-ups.
Your Asthma and Allergy Team in Downers Grove, Naperville, Elmhurst, and Plainfield, IL
At Oak Brook Allergists, our three board-certified allergy specialists, Dr.David Knysak, Dr. Raymond Pongonis, and Dr. Zachary Rubin, provide top-notch care for adult and pediatric patients with eczema. You can count on us to recommend the best treatment for you to help you avoid flare-ups and live well with the condition.
To know more about asthma management, call us today at (630) 574-0460. If you wish to book a consultation,fill in our convenient online appointment request form. Let us help you feel better and breathe easier!