Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames the lungs and triggers frightening attacks characterized by difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, and tightness of the chest. Fortunately, the development of inhalers as a first line of defense for asthma treatment means that the acute signs of an attack can be treated right away. There are many different delivery methods for asthma medication, but inhalers are by far the most popular.
One method of inhaler treatment is the dry powder inhaler, which works by sending dry medicine to the lungs. The medicine is enclosed in a capsule that the patient either loads into the canister themselves or that is already inside the inhaler and must be triggered for use. Since this type of inhaler relies on the patient manually inhaling the dry medication, it has become a less popular option for asthma treatment.
The most common form of asthma treatment is the metered dose inhaler.Medication mixed with aerosol for easy inhalation is delivered in a canister, which is often placed into a holding chamber. The cap is removed, and the mouthpiece of the inhaler is placed between the teeth. Then, the canister is pressed as the patient inhales through their mouth. The user then holds his or her breath to ensure that the medication reaches the lungs.
Once the medication is administered, it is aspirated into the lungs. One group of drugs administered using an MDI, called short-acting bronchodilators, can help asthma sufferers in the midst of an attack and provide immediate relief from symptoms. These drugs work by relieving the spasms in the lungs that are typical of an asthma attack. A typical short-acting bronchodilator prescribed to patients is salbutamol, or albuterol. Their effects can last for four to six hours.
A long-acting bronchodilator, such as salmeterol or formoterol, helps patients manage their asthma over longer periods of time. These medications work by binding to the smooth muscle in a person’s lungs, which helps prevent spasms. They can also reduce the amount of mucus in the lungs by improving the function of the cilia. These medications must be inhaled with steroids in order to prevent the development of severe reactions in the patient.
Thanks to inhaler treatment, patients no longer have to fear situations which might trigger an attack, such as cold weather, exercising, or dust and pollen. People who suspect that they may be suffering from asthma or who think that their asthma is not being managed well despite using inhalers should contact the specialists at Asthma and Allergy Associates as soon as possible.