A chronic inflammation in the bronchial tubes (airways) causing swelling and narrowing (constriction) of the airways is known as Asthma, it is also known as Reactive Airway Disease.
Due to this a person has difficulty to respire. With treatments the bronchial narrowing is reversible may be totally or at least partially. Chronically inflamed Bronchial tubes might become very sensitive to irritants (non specific triggers) or allergens (specific triggers).
A situation might arise where airways can become “twitchy” due to which they would remain in a state of increased sensitivity which is called “bronchial hyper reactivity” (BHR). In case of the sensitive individuals it is more likely that the bronchial tubes would swell and further constrict being exposed to triggers like allergens, exercise or tobacco smoke.
It is very well known that Asthma is incurable but can be controlled.
In order to control the 1st thing the asthmatics should take care of is the environment control through few changes like staying in a clean environment, wear masks wherever required, avoid pets with furs & feathers, replace bedding made of down, etc.
The next step one should take is to monitor their lung function. Asthmatics can use a peak flow meter in order to gauge their lung function.
Next step is the use of medications. We have two major groups medications which are used in order to control asthma namely anti-inflammatories (corticosteroids) & bronchodilators. Anti-inflammatories help in reduction of number of the inflammatory cells present in airways which prevent blood vessels to leak fluid in the airway tissues. Due to reduction of inflammation, there is a reduction to spontaneous spasm in the airway muscle. Anti-inflammatories should be used as a preventive measure for reducing the risk of acute asthma attacks.
Corticosteroids can be given in 2 ways –
- Inhaled through a Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI)
- Orally like a pill/tablet or in a liquid form.
Some of the inhaled corticosteroids are triamcinolone (Azmacort), beclomethasone (Beclovent and Vaceril) and flunisolide (AeroBid). Few oral corticosteroids are prednisolone (Delta Cortef and Sterane) and prednisone (Deltasone, Meticorten or Paracort). Oral corticosteroids (liquid form) are Prelone and Pedipred which are generally for children.
The three drugs zileuton (Zyflo), zafirlukast (Accolate) and montelukast (Singulair) are a newer class of the anti-inflammatories known as leukotriene modifiers.
For a comprehensive, successful, & ongoing treatment of asthma, one should take an active role to manage the effect of the disease. The patient should build a strong partnership with their doctor & other clinicians for their health care.