If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, you know how debilitating a condition it can be. However, there are various kinds of asthma treatment available to make living with asthma that much easier.
At Manse Medical, we provide both diagnosis and treatment for asthma, as well as other respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which we will elaborate on in this article.
What is asthma?
Asthma is the most common chronic lung disease in the world, affecting more than 300 million people (and 1 in 9 Australians), in which environmental triggers cause an immune reaction that results in the inflammation of the lungs, the narrowing of the trachea and a buildup of excess mucus.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
The inflammation and narrowing of the airways caused by asthma results in the following symptoms;
- Tight feeling in the chest
- Continuing cough
These symptoms vary in severity, with the most severe requiring immediate medical intervention, as asthma attacks can be potentially life threatening.
What causes asthma in people?
While we have yet to determine the exact cause of asthma, many risk factors have been identified, such as;
- Family history, as you’re more likely to develop asthma if you have a parent with asthma
- Conditions stemming from allergies, such as eczema or hay fever
- Viral respiratory infections, particularly in infants and children
- Exposure to certain elements in the workplace such as dust or chemical fumes
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive air pollution
- Obesity, regardless of age
What triggers asthma in people?
Common asthma triggers include;
- Tobacco smoke
- Dust mites
- Outdoor air pollution
- Pests (e.g. cockroaches, mice)
- Pets that incite allergic reactions
- Cleaning and disinfectants
Other less common asthma triggers include;
- Sinus infections
- Chemical inhalation
- Acid reflux
- Physical exercise
- Some medications
- Bad weather
- Thunderstorms or high humidity
- Breathing in cold, dry air
- Some foods or additives
How does asthma affect sleep?
Because asthma affects breathing, it can be difficult to sleep for asthmatics, as interruptions in breathing cause the body to wake up. Constant interruptions result in fragmented and inadequate sleep, which can lead to health complications down the line, as well as impaired focus and concentration in the short term.
How is asthma diagnosed by Manse Medical?
At Manse Medical, we conduct a series of lung function tests to detect and diagnose asthma. These include;
- Spirometry, breathing into a device called a spirometer
- DLCO Gas Transfer, taking a deep breath and holding it for approximately 10 seconds
- Lung Volume Test, which involves an airtight container that the respiratory specialist guides you with breathing exercises
- Bronchial Provocation Test, which mimics the process of introducing environmental triggers for asthma in a controlled environment
- 6 Minute Walk Test, which assesses your lungs after walking at a normal pace for six minutes
What are the medications used to treat asthma?
The National Asthma Council of Australia lists several medications that treat asthma on their website. These medications are inhaled using inhalers, turbuhalers, accuhalers, etc.
- Short acting beta-agonists (SABA) are used to quickly relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing.
- ICS PreventersInhaled corticosteroids (ICS), a type of steroid that is inhaled to reduce the inflammation and sensitivity of the airways, which prevents the likelihood of further symptoms.
- Short acting muscarinic antagonists (SAMA) work similarly to SABA, in that they are used to provide short term relief of symptoms. However, while SABA targets the beta-2 receptor in the airways, SAMA targets the muscarinic receptor.
- Non Steroidal Preventers, an orally taken medication that provides treatment for asthma symptoms that doesn’t involve inhalation, working by blocking substances in the lungs known as leukotrienes that cause narrowing and swelling of airways.
- Long acting beta agonists (LABA), which are versions of SABA that work in the long term as a preventative bronchodilator to relax smooth muscles in the airways, thus preventing asthma and COPD symptoms.
- Long acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMA), long acting variations on SAMA medication.
- Combinations of the above treatments which are inhaled at once through a single peripheral.
What else can help treat Asthma and COPD?
In addition to the medications listed above, there are other ways to aid the treatment of asthma and COPD symptoms. These include the following;
- Stopping smoking, as not only does smoking cause damage to various parts of the pulmonary system, it also severely hampers the effectiveness of any asthma medication.
- Annual influenza vaccination reduces the likelihood of asthma attacks, such as pneumococcal vaccination as well as inactive influenza vaccine.
- It is important to make sure that one is using their asthma inhaler correctly.
- Guidelines recommend a written action plan as a component of self-management in asthma that should include the patient’s usual treatment and instructions on how to respond to deterioration.
How can I contact Manse Medical to get a diagnosis for my asthma?
At Manse Medical, we provide both high-quality diagnosis and treatment for respiratory disorders such as asthma. Book your appointment online by selecting your preferred clinic and choosing from the list of available specialists.