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Posts Tagged ‘Asthma’

Everything about Asthma – Information so Good it’ll Take your Breath Away. By Our Student Pharmacist, Cat Mechler.

What is asthma?

Asthma is an inflammatory condition where something causes the airway to get blocked, inflamed, and possibly produce mucus, making it difficult to breathe.(1)

Asthma severity varies greatly. It can range from being mild to interfering with your daily life. Sometimes your symptoms can get progressively worse, known as an asthma attack.(1) A severe attack can be life threatening. There is treatment that will help control these symptoms and limit the number of asthma attacks you have. It is very important to work with your doctor to keep your asthma under control!

What causes asthma?

There are many different things that can trigger a person’s asthma, including:(2)

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Pets
  • Mold
  • Smoking
  • Pollution
  • Cold air
  • Being sick
  • Strong odors


Asthma #1 2

How common is it?

Bronchial asthma is the most common type of asthma and it typically presents in children less than 20-years-old. In the United States, it is the most common chronic condition with 1 of every 12 children having asthma.(1)

What are some symptoms of asthma?

Each type of asthma will have its own unique set of symptoms, but some of the common symptoms include:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty talking

Asthma #2 2

 How is asthma treated?

Your doctor might decide you need an inhaler to help control your asthma. There are two main types of inhalers to be used in different situations:

  • Rescue inhalers:
    • These inhalers provide rapid relief and can be used during an asthma attack.
    • The most common rescue inhaler is albuterol (ProAir, Ventolin, Proventil).
  • Maintenance inhalers:
    • These inhalers are important for controlling your asthma and preventing you from having asthma attacks in the first place. They do require daily or twice daily administration to work.
    • There are single ingredient products and combination products. Depending on the severity of your asthma, your doctor will decide what treatment is the best for you. There are different formulations that these products are available in, such as a metered dose inhaler (MDI), dry powder inhaler (DPI), and many others.
  • Some people may just need a rescue inhaler, while others will need a maintenance inhaler or two to control their asthma. Treatment selection is individualized to each person.

Asthma #3 2

What’s the difference between MDIs, DPIs, and the other inhalers?

Each inhaler formulation has a specific technique that is required for proper administration and to make sure the medicine is actually getting into your body. Without proper technique, it’s as if you didn’t even take the medicine in the first place.

  • Metered dose inhalers (MDIs) are a common inhaler type used in asthma. The National Asthma Council has instruction on how to properly properly administer MDIs:(3)
  1. Remove cap.
  2. Hold inhaler upright and shake well.
  3. Breathe out all the way.
  4. Put mouthpiece between teeth and close lips to form good seal.
  5. Start to breathe in slowly through mouth and at the same time press down firmly on canister.
  6. Continue to breathe in slowly and deeply.
  7. Hold breath for 10 seconds and remove inhaler from mouth.
  8. Breath out gently.
  9. Repeat if an additional dose is needed.
  10. Replace cap.

  • If the inhaler contains a corticosteroid, you want to make sure you rinse your mouth out after using it.
  • Sometimes the timing of administration is difficult. With MDIs you can use a spacer if needed. A spacer attaches right to your inhaler and acts as a holding chamber that allows you to breathe in the medicine easier.(4)

There are a lot of different inhalers that may have their own techniques to use. There are how-to guides available from the National Asthma Council where you can watch videos of how to use your specific inhaler. Of course, if you’re ever unsure of how to properly use your inhaler, ask the pharmacist!


Asthma Attacks! By Our August Student Pharmacist, Joshua Kretzer.

With school back in session, fall is just around the corner. Autumn brings changing, colorful leaves, crisp air, football season, harvest festivals, and allergies of course!

Many of us suffer from seasonal allergies with one of the most common times being in the fall. These allergies are usually triggered by ragweed. It is estimated that up to 75% of North Americans are sensitive to ragweed. For most of us, exposure to ragweed results in itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and runny nose. All of these symptoms are easily treated with an anti-histamine. However, for millions of others, these symptoms can trigger something much more deadly: asthma.

Asthma affects up to 25 million Americans and the numbers are growing. Asthma is caused by the constriction and inflammation of airways in the lungs. Not only do the airways become smaller, but they also produce excess mucus, clogging the airways. The combination of reduced airway size and clogged airways makes it extremely difficult to breathe.

Symptoms of asthma include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

There are two main classifications of asthma: intermittent and persistent.

Intermittent asthma only occurs occasionally and/or under special circumstances. Persistent asthma happens frequently. Persistent asthma can be further broken down into severity of symptoms. Classifications of asthma are dependent on age, type, and frequency of symptoms.

The table lists some of the criteria for asthma classification:

  • Intermittent Asthma
    • Daytime Symptoms occur in all ages two or less days per week.
    • Nighttime Awakenings occur in children 0-4 years old with no real frequency.
    • Nighttime Awakenings also occur in children 5 and older two times or less per month.
    • Usually no interference with normal activity.
  • Mild Persistent Asthma
    • Daytime Symptoms occur in all ages more than 2 days per week (but not daily).
    • Nighttime Awakenings occur in children 0-4 years old 1-2 times per month.
    • Nighttime Awakenings also occur in children 5 and older 3-4 times per month.
    • There are minor limitations on normal activity.
  • Moderate Persistent Asthma
    • Daytime Symptoms occur in all ages daily.
    • Nighttime Awakenings occur in children 0-4 years of age 3-4 times per month.
    • Nighttime Awakenings also occur in children 5 and older more than once a week.
    • There is some limitation on normal activity.
  • Severe Persistent Asthma
    • Daytime Symptoms occur throughout the day for all ages of asthma sufferers.
    • Nighttime Awakenings occur in children 0-4 year of age more than once a week.
    • Nighttime Awakenings also occur in children 5 and older 7 times a week.
    • Normal Activity is extremely limited.

A person can increase or decrease in severity of asthma classification throughout their lifetime, but they will never be cured. Asthma is a life long disease that requires frequent monitoring.

Though there is no cure for asthma, there are several treatments such as: inhalers, nebulizers, and tablets, which can reduce and almost eliminate symptoms. The type of treatment varies based on the severity of the asthma.

If left untreated, asthma can be extremely debilitating, even deadly. This is why it is extremely important to have a rescue inhaler available at all times. A rescue inhaler can be used when someone is suffering from an asthma attack to temporarily relieve the symptoms. So as children head back to the classroom this fall, make sure they not only have a rescue inhaler at home, but one at school, as well.