If you or a family member has recently been diagnosed with asthma, it would be wise for you to understand its symptoms and treatment options. Very often, we see parents holding their asthmatic child back to go out to play or interact with other children because of the fear of them getting an asthma attack.
One need not be afraid of leading a normal, healthy and active life if one understands and manages the illness well. What is important is to acknowledge and accept that one has the disease. Early diagnosis and proper treatment can help a patient lead a perfectly normal life.
Asthma manifests itself as a debilitating cough and wheezing, accompanied by a tightening of the chest in a patient who may also experience an acute shortness of breath. If these symptoms are recurrent, then the patient must get himself/herself checked for Asthma.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes inflammation of the airways through which we breathe. Many environmental triggers like pollen and dust may set off the inflammation in a patient with asthma, leading to a constriction of the airways.
“It is very important for an Asthma patient to be regular with check-ups. They should avoid allergies by keeping their homes well aerated. Pranayama and breathing exercises are also beneficial to Asthma patients,” said Dr. Mrunalini Thorat, an Army wife and an empanelled doctor with the Ex-Servicemen Cooperative Health Scheme (ECHS) Clinic, Mhow (MP).
One of the most effective treatment methods for asthma is inhalation therapy that involves taking the medicine directly through inhalation devices which gives direct relief to the inflamed area.
Advantages of Inhalation Therapy
- Direct administration to the site of inflammation: Since the drug is inhaled, it reaches the inflamed air passage directly and starts taking action, thus giving relief to the patient.
- Fast relief: An oral drug, when administered, has to first be digested and absorbed, and then it reaches the area of inflammation via the blood stream thus taking a long time to act. An inhaled drug reaches the target area of action instantly and provides immediate relief to the patient.
- Effective in small doses: Since the drug reaches the target area directly, even a small dose when administered is very effective in the treatment of the disease.
- Minimal side effects: Since the amount of drug administered in inhalation therapy is very small as compared to other forms of medication, the side effects would potentially be minimal. This is beneficial where steroidal drugs are being administered to an asthmatic patient.
“For patients like me, allergies are a regular feature and during this time, having a drug that reaches and opens up the airways quickly is a blessing. Having blocked airways and the continuous long sharp breaths are not a good feeling”, said Aditi Menon, 29, Copywriter.
Types of Inhalation Devices
There are many different types of inhaler devices and different devices suit different people.
- Pressurised metered dose inhaler: This is the most commonly used inhaler for Asthma as it is small, easy to carry and operate. The medication is delivered in a measured quantity with every puff.
- Breathe Activated inhaler: Theses are bigger than the pressurised metered dose inhalers and allow convenient drug delivery. A measured dose of the medication is delivered when a breath is taken in by the patient.
- Spacer devices: These inhalers are add-on devices to the pressurized metered dose inhalers and help the patient to inhale medication easily and effectively. They are especially useful in specific age-groups like children and elderly who may find it difficult to use the pressurized metered dose inhalers.
- Nebulizer: A nebulizer is used when the breathing becomes too difficult. A higher dose of medication is placed in a medication cup and the air pumped out through the machine transforms the medication into fine mist, which is then inhaled by the patient in the normal breathing rhythm using a mouthpiece.
You can consult a doctor as to which device is best suited for your condition. Many initiatives like ‘Breathefree’ also help patients with Asthma lead a normal and healthy life by giving the right guidance and information. www.breathefree.com