Asthma is a condition where airways leading to the lungs become swollen and filled with mucous. This leads to wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath that can be mild or life-threatening. People with asthma have airways that are sensitive to irritants in the environment like pollutants in the air, dust, mold and animal dander. Exposure to these irritants can trigger an asthma attack. Stress, exposure to the cold, respiratory infections and certain foods or medications are other triggers that can bring on an asthma attack in some cases. Asthma is a chronic disease that has no cure. In some cases there's a genetic component. The good news is the symptoms can usually be controlled with lifestyle changes and medications recommended by your doctor. read more about asthma care »
During an asthma attack, airways constrict so that less air flows into the lungs. One way to get relief is to open up tight airways with an inhaler that delivers a bronchodilator, like racepinephrine, that causes the airways to expand. Using one involves placing your mouth over the inhaler and breathing the medication into your lungs. Be sure to read the directions beforehand. Racepinephrine, the active ingredient, helps to unclamp constricted airways and reduce wheezing and chest tightness quickly so you can breathe more freely. Carry one with you and you're prepared should you experience wheezing or chest tightness. Doctors frequently prescribe inhaled bronchodilators for patients with asthma.
Another way to deliver a bronchodilating medication to your lungs is with a nebulizer. Nebulizers are what hospitals use to treat asthma attacks. How do you use one? Place the mask attached to the nebulizer over your nose and mouth and breathe in the mist. The nebulizer delivers the proper amount of bronchodilating medication directly to your lungs as you inhale. Nebulizers are available for home use. Unlike inhalers, nebulizers are not portable so you may benefit from having an inhaler to carry with you and a nebulizer to use at home.
It's important to know when an asthma attack is coming on so you can address it quickly before the wheezing and chest tightness worsens. One way to monitor your asthma is with a digital peak flow and FEV1 meter. This meter you can purchase for home use measures FEV1 (how quickly air moves out of your airways as you exhale). During an asthma attack, FEV1 goes down as airways become more constricted and congested with mucous. By using a digital peak flow and FEV1 meter, you can check for a drop in FEV1 that might indicate an impending asthma attack - so you can take action early. You can also keep records of your FEV1 to show your doctor. This helps your doctor better manage your asthma.
Air Care and Nasal Care: Natural Approaches to Healthy Airways and Sinuses
There are also homeopathic products available that help to maintain respiratory health using a natural approach. These have the benefit of being drug-free but more research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of natural therapies.
As you can see, there are a number of options available to help you breathe more easily if you have asthma. Talk to your doctor about which options are right for you.
This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter medication as they may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking these products. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.