So what is it??
As we know we have two lungs, which are often described as being like a pair of large sponges. They are situated in our chest and are essential for breathing oxygen into our bloodstream and breathing carbon dioxide out.
Asthma is a condition that causes occasional tightening of the air passages, which makes it difficult breathing air in and out of the lungs. This occasional or varying tightening is characteristic of asthma. Most people are fit and well in between attacks or episodes, and can breathe normally.
What are the symptoms of Asthma??
The main symptoms of asthma are:
Coughing – When the airways are irritable and sensitive (twitchy), the irritation can make you cough. The coughing is often worse at night.
Wheezing – When the airways in the lungs become tight, they narrow in size. This makes it more difficult to breathe out normally and the air has to be forced out instead. If air is forced out of the lungs through narrowed airways, it causes a high pitched squeaky or whistling noise known as wheezing.
Chest Tightness – When the airways become narrow, it can give you the feeling that there is something tight around the chest, and this makes breathing uncomfortable. It can be quite painful too and, because of this, you may think something is wrong with your heart, but asthma does not affect the heart in this way.
Shortness of breath – When the airways are tight, breathing is harder than normal and results in shortness of breath, especially on exertion.
There are many medicines available to treat asthma in the UK.
If your own treatment is not named in this research centre, it does not mean that you are receiving an unacceptable medicine, just that for reasons of space we cannot include all possible medicine names in the answer to each question. An added confusion for us all is that generally each medicine has a minimum of two names! The generic name is the basis, or real medicine name, but each medicine also has a brand name, given by the manufacturer. For example, the most frequently prescribed medicine for asthma is Salbutamol (generic name). This is best known by the brand name Ventolin, used by its leading manufacturer, but also by other names such as Salamol, Airomir or Asmasal when marketed by a different company. We will be referring to both brand and generic name because many medicines are being prescribed by their generic name.
At present, inhaled asthma medicines are placed into one or two categories – Preventers and relievers. Relievers are either short or long acting.
Preventer or anti-inflammatory drugs prevent asthma symptoms if they are taken regularly. They are usually taken by the inhaled route. Steroid medicines are the most effective type of preventers. Other anti – inflammatory drugs are available but can be less effective inhaled steroids.
Short-acting reliever medicines, as the name suggests, relieve systems when they occur and therefore do not need to be taken regularly. They work within minutes and reach maximum benefit after 15-20 minutes. There is some evidence to suggest that they are more effective when they are taken occasionally rather than regularly.
Long –acting reliever medicines are recommended for people who are already talking preventer medicines but need additional treatment to control their asthma symptoms. All relievers work in the same way by relaxing tight muscles in the lining of the airways.