Sunday, June 5, 2011

Treatment For Asthma

The goal of treatment is to avoid the substances that trigger your symptoms and to control airway inflammation. You and your doctor should work together as a team to develop and carry out a plan for eliminating asthma triggers and monitoring symptoms.

There are two basic kinds of medication for the treatment of asthma:

    * Long-acting medications to prevent attacks
    * Quick-relief medications for use during attacks

Long-term control medications are used on a regular basis to prevent attacks, not to treat them. Such medicines include:

    * Inhaled corticosteroids (such as Azmacort, Vanceril, AeroBid, Flovent) prevent inflammation
    * Leukotriene inhibitors (such as Singulair and Accolate)
    * Long-acting bronchodilators (such as Serevent) help open airways
    * Omilizumab (Xolair), which blocks a pathway that the immune system uses to trigger asthma symptoms
    * Cromolyn sodium (Intal) or nedocromil sodium (Tilade)
    * Aminophylline or theophylline (not used as frequently as in the past)
    * Sometimes a single medication that combines steroids and bronchodilators are used (Advair, Symbicort)

Quick relief, or rescue, medications are used to relieve symptoms during an attack. These include:

    * Short-acting bronchodilators (inhalers), such as Proventil, Ventolin, Xopenex, and others
    * Corticosteroids, such as methylprednisolone, may be given directly into a vein (intravenously), during a severe attack, along with other inhaled medications

People with mild asthma (infrequent attacks) may use quick relief medication as needed. Those with persistent asthma should take control medications on a regular basis to prevent symptoms. A severe asthma attack requires a check up by a doctor and, possibly, a hospital stay, oxygen, and medications through a vein (IV).

A peak flow meter is a simple device to measure how quickly you can move air out of your lungs. It can help you see if an attack is coming, sometimes even before any symptoms appear. Peak flow measurements can help show when medication is needed, or other action needs to be taken. Peak flow values of 50-80% of a specific person's best results are a sign of a moderate asthma attack, while values below 50% are a sign of a severe attack.

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