Asthma drugs are medicines that treat or prevent asthma attacks. Asthma is a chronic (long-lasting) inflammatory disease of the airways. In those susceptible to asthma, this inflammation causes the airways to narrow periodically. This, in turn, produces wheezing and breathlessness, sometimes to the point where the patient gasps for air. Obstruction to air flow either stops spontaneously or responds to a wide range of treatments, but continuing inflammation makes the airways hyper-responsive to stimuli such as cold air, exercise, dust mites, pollutants in the air, and even stress and anxiety.
Asthma usually begins in childhood or adolescence, but it also may first appear during adult years. While the symptoms may be similar, certain important aspects of asthma are different in children and adults.
Inflammation of the airways during an asthma attack may be due to a combination of things. Although it is not clear why inflammation occurs, scientists do know that if other family members experience the same reaction, you are more likely to develop it.
Asthma symptoms are sometimes worsened by certain triggers. The following is a list of possible asthma causes (triggers):
- Allergens which includes animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, pollen and mold
- Irritants which includes cigarette smoke, indoor and outdoor air pollution, cold air and weather changes, strong odors, scented products and stress.
- Other Triggers which includes medications, sulfites, infections or allergens and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Asthma symptoms often seem like other respiratory problems. But, since asthma is a chronic or long-term disease, your symptoms may keep coming back.
Common symptoms of asthma may include:
- coughing, especially worse at night and in the early morning
- chest tightness
- shortness of breath
Check with your doctor/health care provider if you have any of these symptoms. These symptoms may be a sign of a condition other than asthma. Only your doctor/health care provider can diagnose asthma.
There are a number of ways to cut down exposure to the common allergens and irritants that provoke asthmatic attacks, or to avoid them altogether:
- If the patient is sensitive to a family pet, remove the animal or at least keep it out of the bedroom. Keep the pet away from carpets and upholstered furniture. Remove all feathers.
- To reduce exposure to house dust mats, remove wall-to-wall carpeting, keep the humidity down, and use special pillow and mattress covers. Cut down on stuffed toys, and wash them each week in hot water.
- Keep indoor air clean by vacuuming carpets once or twice a week (with the patient absent), avoid using humidifiers, and do use air conditioning during warm weather (so that the windows can be closed).
- Avoid exposure to tobacco smoke.
- Do not exercise outside when air pollution levels are high.