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Asthma affects the tubes that transport air in and out of the lungs (airways). In the UK, about 5.4 million people receive asthma treatment. Different types of asthma affect people, and several other conditions are mistaken as asthma.

Diagnostic tests and therapies are available to diagnose accurately and treat asthma and its related conditions at Medical Express Clinic. Healthcare professionals, including Private GPs and other specialists, such as speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, and ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors, work together to provide adequate care and management.

Types of asthma medication

  • Relievers

    Relievers, also known as short-acting bronchodilators, are usually in a white or blue inhaler. They offer immediate relief from mild to moderate tightness in the chest. People with asthma may need to use relievers multiple times daily because their effectiveness subsides after a while. Salbutamol, a beta 2 agonist is the most common short-acting bronchodilator that relaxes the airway walls' smooth muscles.

  • Preventers

    Preventers are usually steroids, but corticosteroids are not anabolic steroids. They work by reducing the inflammatory response in the airways. Preventers may be available in a beige or brown inhaler device. While it takes a little longer to notice the effects of preventers, they offer longer-lasting relief than relievers, so they are usually administered twice daily. Inhalers have a low dose of steroids, and the delivery is direct to the site of action.

Causes of asthma

Asthma occurs from the inflammation of the bronchi of the lungs. The bronchi are the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. Asthma causes further bronchi inflammation and makes them more sensitive than normal. Irritants can trigger the lungs' airways, causing tightening of the muscles around the airway and producing sticky mucus or phlegm.

Common irritants and triggers for asthma include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Dust mite/dust
  • Pollen
  • Viral infections
  • Fur and pet dander
  • Exercise

Other substances in the home or work environment (chemicals or allergens) may also trigger asthma. Consult your doctor if your symptoms worsen during the holidays or at work.

Symptoms of asthma

Symptoms of asthma are the same for everyone with the condition but with varying severity. These symptoms include:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Breathlessness
  • Inability to take a deep breath in
  • A feeling of tightness in the chest

The symptoms may occur at once but usually in response to a trigger like exercise, breathing in airborne substances like animal dander or pollen, or a stressful situation. They may also occur more often during another illness, such as a cold or flu. This response is known as an asthma attack. An asthma attack can come up gradually or suddenly.

Additional symptoms of asthma include:

  • Perspiration
  • Dizziness
  • Blue fingers or lips
  • Racing or pounding heartbeat
  • Fainting

In most cases, an inhaler can offer immediate relief from asthma attacks. However, more severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. On average, three deaths occur from an asthma attack daily in the UK.

Overview of treatment

Inhalers are an effective, safe and easy treatment for mild to moderate asthma. An inhaler delivers drugs directly into the airways, leaving only small quantities of the drug in the bloodstream, so the systemic side effects are negligible or minimal.

Attaching a spacer device to the inhaler helps increase drug delivery and is especially useful for small children or people who do not have optimal inhaler techniques. Medications for inhalation can also be administered with nebulisers (misting machines), which operate with a battery or plugged into a power source.

Other medications for asthma treatment

When asthma symptoms are particularly difficult to control with the medications, the options include increasing the dose of inhaled steroids or adding a longer-acting beta agonist (LABA).

These two drugs are usually in the same inhaler. Combination inhalers are available in different devices, so shooing the right one is important for easy use. The healthcare professional may also recommend a short course of oral steroids if the asthma attacks are particularly severe and inhaled treatment alone isn't effective.

Other drugs for treating asthma include those targeted at the inflammatory pathways or give more bronchodilatation than the first-line drugs. Different immunomodulatory drugs are still being developed, including the monoclonal antibody that neutralises the antibody (IgE) that causes allergic reactions.

At Medical Express Clinic, we have effective treatment plans for asthma tailored to each patient's needs. Our treatment package includes:

  • Enhanced pre-admission assessment
  • Treatment with experienced healthcare professionals
  • Personalises aftercare and follow-up

Visit Medical Express Clinic today or call 0207 499 1991 to book an appointment with us if you experience asthma symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the causes of an asthma attack?

Asthma attacks can occur from different triggers. Common triggers include pet dander and hair, dust, viruses, cold and other environmental factors. Identifying your triggers can help prevent asthma attacks.

Does asthma have a cure?

No, it doesn't. Asthma is a chronic condition requiring regular check ups. The right treatment may reduce symptoms, but the condition requires ongoing management.

Can I exercise if I have asthma?

Yes, you can. Consult with your Asthma specialist to confirm if you can participate in physical activity while safely managing your condition.