Common Ailments

Asthma

What is asthma?

Asthma is a long-term disease. If you have asthma, at times the air passages of your lungs become inflamed. When this happens your airways get read and swollen. They become narrow, making it harder for you to breathe. You may also wheeze or cough. Even if you feel good your airways can become inflamed for certain things such as smoke or dust. Colds or allergies can also trigger asthma attacks.

How is it treated?

Most people with asthma take 2 kinds of medicines. One is called controller medicine. These medicines help control the inflammation so you feel and breathe better. Controller medicines work only if you take them every day, as your doctor tells you.

Another kind of medicine is quick-relief or rescuer medicine (also called bronchodilators). These medicines dilate the airway and make it easier for you to breathe. These medicines should only be used for quick relief when you are coughing or wheezing, or when your chest feels tight.

How can I control my asthma?

Try to avoid things that irritate the lungs such as air pollution, tobacco smoke or perfumes. Avoiding pet hair and controlling seasonal allergies may help. Avoid infections and get a flu shot every year.

Take controller medications every day. These medicines will not work properly if you skip days.

What medicines are available?

Controller medicines:

  • Aerobid, Flovent, pulmicort, Azmacort (these are inhalers called corticosteroids)
  • Accolate or Singular (these are tablets called leukotriene inhibitors)
  • serevent (inhaler)
  • Advair (inhaler)

Quick relief medicines:

  • Albuterol, ventolin (inhalers)
  • Prednisone (steroid tablet)

When should I see a doctor?

If you are having shortness of breath and wheezing or your symptoms are not being controlled with your medications you should call the Health Center. Also, if you find that you wake up at night more than 2 times per month or use your quick relief inhaler more than twice a week, you should see the doctor.