If you have asthma, treatment will involve getting the condition to the point where itís under control. This is achieved through the use of a combination of techniques, which could include behavioural adjustments and the use of preventers and relievers. Both of these are available in many different delivery methods such as inhalers, injections and tablets.
Dr Hilary Jones talks about the various asthma inhalers
The most likely treatments used, due to their quick and direct delivery method, are preventers and relievers in the form of inhalers. Preventers will likely be used on a regular basis, while relieves are recommended for use as and when needed, although some also have properties that allow them to be used for the prevention of attacks.
When a person is first diagnosed with asthma, a doctor will work out an action plan which will include information about the treatment, ways to recognise the signs of an impending attack and steps to take to deal with it, by employing the right medications and behavioural techniques. If you have asthma, youíll most likely have to go to your doctor for regular checkups to ensure that your treatment is still working well and that your action plan is up to date.
Most asthma medications can either work as relievers, which mean that they work to relax and open airways to ease breathing; while preventers are intended to prevent inflammation, mucus production and sensitivity to asthma triggers to prevent an attack.
The most common type of preventer is inhaled steroids, which may include medicines like budesonide, fluticasone or beclomethasone. Relievers are usually beta 2 agonists.
Although many people tend to think that puffers (compressed liquid medication) such as Ventolin are the only treatments available, there are actually many different methods of treatment so you are sure to find the one that suits you best.
Nebulisers push oxygen through a liquid version of the medication, which creates an extremely fine mist. This mist is then administered to a patient through a mouthpiece or a mask. This type of inhaler is often used in cases where a person requires high doses in a severe attack or when a child is unable to use a hand-held inhaler themselves.
Puffers are mostly hand held inhalers that contain liquid medications such as the beta 2 agonist salbutamol (Ventolin), thatís been compressed. When used, a set dose of medication is released, the liquid evaporates and the active ingredient is inhaled. Puffers aren't just a method in which reliever medications are supplied, but preventative treatments such as Clenil, or Qvar are also available as puffer inhalers.
Dry powder inhalers
Preventers and relievers can both be administered by dry powder inhalers. The device contains capsules with dry powder that breaks when activated, which then leaves a measured dose of treatment that can be inhaled.
Spacers can be used to administer inhaled medications more gradually. Itís helpful if you find it difficult to space your breathing when you use an inhaler or if you find that you tend to develop oral thrush when you use a puffer that squirts a single jet of medication into your mouth.
Tablets and injections
Steroid tablets or injections are used if people are experiencing serious symptoms. In these cases a person will have to receive injections or use tablets for a couple of days until their condition has stabilised and they can be returned to their regular treatment.
Omalizumab is a new injection treatment to help reduce the likelihood of an immune reaction to irritants; however itís mainly intended for people who have persistent attacks. Leukotriene receptor antagonists and theophylline are tablets that are recommended to people who require additional preventative medicines to supplement their current treatment regime for a while.
In addition to medications, people have attempted to control their asthma with the help of breathing methods, acupuncture, homeopathy, Chinese herbal medicines, and dietary changes, techniques to alter body movement or ionisers. Of these treatments, breathing exercises are the most effective.
Are these treatments available online?
Ventolin, Clenil, Flixotide, Pulmicort, Qvar, Seretide and Symbicort are all available to buy online from HealthExpress after completing a short online consultation. All consultations are checked by a registered doctor to ensure that your preferred treatment is right for you to use and once approved, you will be provided with an option to place an order. Once youíve placed your order your prescription will be sent to our pharmacy where your treatment will be shipped for secure next-day delivery, at no additional charge to you.