The goal of asthma treatment and management is to achieve and maintain good control, such that the patient has minimal symptoms (ie No sleep disturbance, no early morning shortness of breath, no exercise intolerance), infrequent exacerbations, minimal need for bronchodilator therapy and can have normal physical activities.
Medication used in asthma:
- "Reliever" medication – these are the short-acting bronchodilators which bring fast relief during an acute attack. They relax the muscles of the airways causing them to open up. May be administrated as an aerosol spray, syrup or tablet.
- "Preventer" medication – these medications are anti-inflammatory agents which help prevent acute asthma attacks. They are mostly low dose steroids, which may be used on their own (eg. Beclotide and flixotide) or in combination with long-acting bronchodilators (eg. Seretide and symbicort).
- Montelukast – these are leukotriene receptor antagonists. These "sprinkle on" granules and chewable tablets are useful in children with mild persistent asthma. They also provide some protection in exercise-induced asthma and are effective as an add-on therapy in children which asthma is exclusively controlled on low-doses of inhaled steroids alone.
- Oral steroids – used in short term treatment of acute asthma attacks.
- Nebulized medication – your doctor may prescribe medication via a nebulizer for severe acute attacks. This machine pumps a continuous mist of medication, which is inhaled via a face mask. It often brings significant relief.
An equally important part of asthma management, to avoid possible triggers. This will be discussed in further detail in another article.
As the goal of asthma therapy is to achieve control, patients should periodically monitor that control has been achieved and maintained. This can be done via various tools such as the Asthma Control Test (ACT) – a symptom assessment questionnaire. Monitoring of control can also be done by testing lung function with spirometry and peak expiratory flow rates.
Whilst there is no cure for asthma, it is a very treatable disease in which good control can usually be achieved. So, take control of your asthma, and do not let it control you.