What is asthma?
Asthma is an extremely common health condition. It affects approximately 5.4 million people here in the UK, 50% of which are children. A long-term – otherwise known as chronic - respiratory disease that tends to develop during childhood, symptoms can ease over time, however they will never completely disappear.
If you have asthma, you will find that certain triggers leave you wheezing, breathless and tired. These triggers can vary massively from person to person. Your airways - the bronchioles - are very sensitive, and can become inflamed through various causes including exercise, dust, any allergies or even the quality of air and surrounding pollution all depending on the individual in question. You may also form a build-up of mucus, making it even harder to breath the oxygen in, and the carbon dioxide out.
As you can imagine, an immune reaction can severely constrict and reduce airflow, making it a serious condition if not managed properly.
Luckily, there are treatments easily available regardless of whether the condition is exercise-induced, provoked by allergies or smoke related. Therefore, if you suffer from any of these forms of asthma, it can be effectively managed and improved over time.
What is COPD?
COPD, medically known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is similar to asthma in the sense that it is a condition that affects the lungs. The term used for diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways and it can be prevented with the same treatments as asthma including inhalers, medicines and lifestyle changes. Typical symptoms include breathlessness, a persistent cough, frequent chest infections and phlegm, all of which can be confused with asthma however the symptoms are often more severe.
What are the main causes of asthma?
What are the various asthma triggers?
There are a number of triggers dependent on the individual, however the outcome seldom differs with the vast majority of sufferers all experiencing shortness of breath.
Your condition could be caused by one or a number of these triggers. Keeping a mental or physical note of these will help you manage any distorting symptoms, however most find any extremely adaptable. A number of symptoms if not prevented include; breathlessness, wheezing and coughing:
A good indicator of which triggers affect you the most is your peak flow that can be measured during rest points in comparison to when you feel breathless. A peak flow monitor is simply a tube with figures listed vertically. A sharp exhale into the tube moves the pin, allowing you to check how your lungs are doing. The level you should be at varies depending on age, gender, height and what specific triggers you have. Many asthmatics keep a peak flow diary or 'asthma plan' to keep on top of their progress.
Symptoms of asthma
What is an asthma attack?
What is the difference between typical wheezing and an asthma attack? Other than your symptoms of asthma attack being far more severe, the smallest tubes connected to your lungs narrow and contract, limiting your oxygen levels even further. If you are having an attack, you will most likely have additional mucus also.
But how can you can you tell if you're on the verge on an attack? These are the five solid indicators:
- If your symptoms are prolonged and getting worse
- If you're having difficulty speaking, drinking and sleeping
- If your breathing rate increases
- If you can't breath in without maximum effort
- If your reliever isn't helping in the slightest, especially after four hours
We have more details on dealing with an asthma attack just below.
How to manage asthma
As well as avoiding your particular trigger(s), the most effective way to treat asthma is through oral medications known as preventers and relievers, aka inhalers. There are other methods to relieve asthma symptoms (such as a cough) including keeping smoke-free, taking care of seasonal allergies and getting vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia. All of these alternate options can be seen in more detail in the section below.
Inhalers are an essential in the bag, purse or pocket of any asthmatic and have been proven in clinical studies to be the most effective method, especially at successfully preventing asthma attacks. Even if your symptoms are mild, getting treatment to avert a potentially more serious attack could be lifesaving. For example, fitness fanatics should always be carrying a suitable in-date reliever inhaler to the gym, and keeping a decent stash during cold season is advised.
If you require both preventers and relievers, certain medications can be taken separately (Qvar and Ventolin for example) and you can also get combined treatment, including Seretide. These are also available in various dosages dependant on the severity of your condition.
Benefits of treating asthma
- Reduced asthmatic symptoms
less prevalance of wheezing, coughing, breathlessness etc
- Reduced reliance on relievers
treating this condition can lessen the usage of a reliever inhaler in the long term
- Increased control/management
better lung function and normal activity levels can be achieved through effective management
- Prevent asthma attacks
this would reduce frequent emergency trips to the hospital
Further help for Asthma
Although asthma cannot be prevented, there are measures you can take to ensure that you manage your asthma more successfully. These measures involve attempting to avoid the triggers mentioned above and include the following:
- Getting vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia
- Using allergy-proof pillows and mattresses
- Not allowing pets on furniture or in bedrooms
- Keeping smoke free and avoiding areas where people smoke
- Taking care of your seasonal allergies, e.g. hay fever
- Using a peak flow meter to measure how fast you can blow air out
- Keeping asthma medication readily available
- Getting regular check-ups with your GP
- Stay prepared and know the location of your nearest hospital, just in case
Following these helpful tips, along with using your medication (i.e. inhalers) will give you the best chance possible to successfully control and even improve your asthma in the long term, and to avoid any serious effects caused by this condition, such as the risk of asthma attacks.
What can you do if you have an asthma attack?
If you have asthma, chances are you're well aware of your triggers and an impending attack. Every asthma sufferer knows the importance of carrying all the medication they need just in case of emergencies to manage their asthma attack. Basically you've got it covered. But here are some additional steps to give you the best chance possible of avoiding an attack:
Most importantly, STAY CALM
Continue using your reliever inhaler if the ambulance/further aid is more than 15 minutes away
DON'T lie down - sit up
Use your reliever inhaler (usually blue) frequently – once or twice a minute depending on the severity for a maximum of 10 puffs
If your breathing hasn't improved, call for back up! Dial 999
What options we offer for asthma
At HealthExpress, we can help you successfully manage your asthma with a wide range of effective treatments, including oral medication and inhalers, as well as offering additional advice and support. These treatments ensure that you are able to control asthma symptoms, which can in severe cases, potentially lead to asthma attacks. Most commonly, asthma treatment will involve inhalers, which come in two groups, preventers or relievers. Preventers are recommended for daily use and aim to reduce airway sensitivity, swelling and mucous production in response to irritants. Relievers, such as Ventolin, relax and open airways during an attack. Sometimes a reliever as well as a preventer can be used during an attack to help deal with the obstruction as well as the inflammation. Both forms of treatment are available to buy at HealthExpress.
Our service is quick, confidential and tailored to your lifestyle, so you can receive your usual asthma treatment within just 24 hours of ordering. The process is simple; complete our no obligation consultation within minutes, which will be sent to our doctors. Once your consultation has been approved, the prescription is sent directly to our UK based pharmacy where your treatment will be prepared ready for free next day delivery.
What are the available asthma treatments?
Most commonly asthma treatment will involve inhalers, which come in two groups, preventers or relievers. Preventers are recommended for daily use and aim to reduce airway sensitivity, swelling and mucous production in response to irritants. Relievers, such as Ventolin, relax and open airways during an attack. Sometimes a reliever as well as a preventer can be used during an attack to help deal with the obstruction as well as the inflammation. Both forms of treatment are available to buy at HealthExpress.