A variety of factors can trigger the inflammation which causes the symptoms of asthma – wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning.
These trigger factors include allergies, viral infections and inhaled pollutants such as tobacco smoke, dust and dust mites. Cold air exposure and exercise can trigger asthma, as can reflux disease and certain medicines in people with super-sensitive airways. Even laughing (said to be the best medicine!!), especially in children, has been shown to trigger asthma.
Most people with asthma will need preventer and reliever medicines as well.
Some people need to use preventers for only a few weeks or months of the year, but other people need to use preventers all year round. Preventers should not be stopped unless advised by a doctor.
The main types of asthma medicines are called relievers and preventers. Relievers are short-term medicines that open airways quickly by relaxing the muscles around the airways. Preventers are long-term medicines.
Asthma makes the lining of your airways inflamed (red and swollen). Preventers help to reduce the inflammation and reduce the amount of mucus in airways. They also make airways less sensitive to asthma triggers. They can prevent asthma symptoms and lung damage if used every day.
Relievers: Use your reliever only when needed:
· help relieve asthma symptoms within a few minutes. Their effect can last for 4–6 hours
· should be used only ‘as needed’ for quick relief
· may be used before exercise, to prevent exercise-induced asthma.
The aim of asthma treatment is to prevent symptoms. You should use your preventer or combination inhaler every day. Some inhalers contain a combination of a corticosteroid preventer and a long-acting reliever in the same inhaler device.
· must be used or taken every day, even when you don’t have any symptoms
· may take several weeks to improve symptoms
· will not relieve an asthma attack once it has started.
You can get more information on asthma and asthma medicines from pharmacies who provide Self Care Fact Cards. Pharmacist are trained to review your inhaler technique too.
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