Millions of people of all different ages are affected by asthma symptoms, which can range from mild and uncomfortable to severe and practically debilitating. Asthma is a condition in which a person's airways become inflamed and constricted, making it difficult to breathe. Treatments for asthma vary depending on the causes, frequency, and severity of a person's asthma attacks, and may include oral and inhaled medications, alternative medicines like ginkgo biloba, and preventative techniques to avoid triggers. Effective asthma control requires an individual to stay mindful of his or her triggers and symptoms, track changes, and consult a physician regularly.
Asthma control depends largely on the causes of a person's symptoms. Many incidences of asthma result from exposure to allergens, such as certain types of food or airborne pathogens like dust or pollen. Allergy-induced asthma control usually involves taking steps to prevent exposure and receiving treatment for the allergies themselves. People can avoid spending time outside during the seasons in which their allergies and resulting asthma are at their worst, purchase an air filter to prevent indoor airborne allergens, and stay away from foods that trigger reactions. If a doctor suspects that certain types of allergies make a patient's asthma worse, he or she might recommend regular allergy shots to lessen the body's reaction to pathogens.
If asthma symptoms regularly appear when a person spends time in cold air or engages in physical activity, a doctor may suggest daily oral or inhaled medicines known as bronchodilators to reduce the severity of attacks. Prescription bronchodilators such as montelukast and fluticasone work to reduce inflammation and keep airways open during activity. With regular use, bronchodilators are usually effective at providing long-term asthma control.
Many people rely on albuterol or anticholinergic inhalers to provide immediate asthma control in the event of a sudden episode. These bronchodilators work to reduce tension in airway muscles, allowing them to relax and open. Within seconds, irritation and inflammation begin to subside and an asthma sufferer is able to breathe better. Most physicians, pharmacists, and drug manufacturers warn patients not to overuse short-term asthma inhalers, as they could potentially cause nausea, headaches, heart palpitations, and other negative side effects.
Other options for asthma control include alternative medicines and home remedies. Ginkgo biloba supplements may be able to reduce the likelihood of asthma attacks by preventing inflammation in the bronchial tubes. Regular doses of vitamin C can improve lung and airway functioning as well. Asthma sufferers may also be able to find relief by maintaining healthier diets and exercising to train their bodies to tolerate higher levels of activity.