The Importance of Controller Medication in People with Chronic Asthma

Poorly controlled asthma can seriously affect the quality of many people’s lives. Interrupted sleep, time lost from school and work, and limited involvement in physical as well as social activities are just a few of the many possible consequences of being diagnosed with asthma. Asthma-related concerns contribute to a huge number of doctor visits and emergency department trips and are a tremendous cost to many families. Fortunately, experts have found ways to effectively control chronic asthma because of the recent medical discoveries about controller medications and their effectiveness in preventing airway inflammation.

The Role of Inflammation in Chronic Asthma

Not too long ago, medical professionals were focusing entirely on narrowing of the airways due to the contraction of the muscles of bronchial tubes during an asthma attack. Recently, however, there had been a growing emphasis on the role of inflammation in chronic asthma along with the importance of controller drugs in the prevention of asthma episodes.

Inflammation is the body’s way of defending itself against things that it perceives as foreign and harmful. Some types of inflammation last only for a short time (e.g. sunburn) while others can last for years or even a lifetime (e.g. psoriasis). It has been a known fact that acute inflammation of the bronchial tubes occurs during asthma attacks. Fairly recently, however, it was discovered by experts that some inflammation is present in the airways of asthmatic individuals even when they feel completely fine. The cause of this chronic inflammation remains unknown, although in many instances things point out to an allergic type of reaction.

The Use of Controller Medications in People with Chronic Asthma

The medications used in asthma management can be categorized into two: relievers and controllers. Between these two, controller drugs are considered the cornerstone of asthma prevention and therapy. Generally taken every day, these drugs reduce airway inflammation and prevent asthma attacks from developing.

Unfortunately, not many people with persistent, chronic asthma use controller medications despite strong evidence that their regular use can significantly improve control of the disease. According to some studies, a large number of asthmatic individuals don’t use them at all, while others use them less than prescribed. There is also good evidence that daily use of controllers can help stop asthma exacerbations and lessen hospital admissions. Despite their proven benefits on health, many people with asthma are not being prescribed, or do not take, controllers for their problem.

At present, there are generally two types of medications available for the prevention of asthma: inhaled corticosteroids (fluticasone, budesonide, mometasone, ciclesonide, flunisolide, and beclomethasone) and anti-allergics/mast cell stabilizers (cromolyn and nedocromil).

The Importance of Inhaled Corticosteroids

Inhaled corticosteroids have become the mainstay of asthma treatment for chronic asthma. These medications have been proven effective in preventing inflammation of the airways. For individuals with mild, moderate, or severe chronic asthma, doctors usually prescribe the daily use of inhaled corticosteroids to prevent asthma episodes. They come in various strengths and are generally used once or twice daily. The following are some of the more popular brands of steroid inhalers:

• Fluticasone (Flovent Diskus, Flonase)
• Budesonide (Pulmicort, Rhinocort)
• Mometasone (Nasonex, Asmanex Twisthaler)
• Cicelesonide (Alvesco, Omnaris)
• Triamcinolone (Azmacort)
• Flunisolide (Aerobid, Aerospan HFA)
• Beclomethasone (Qvar, Qnasl)

Aside from preventing inflammation, these medications have also been proven to reduce airway hypersensitivity, lower ER visits and hospitalizations, and improve a patient’s overall quality of life.

The Role of Anti-allergics/Mast Cell Stabilizers

Cromolyn sodium (Intal) and nedocromil (Tilade) are used as add-on controller medications and alternative treatment options for asthma management. These medications work by blocking the release of antihistamine from mast cells, thereby preventing asthma flare ups. Remember, however, that although these medications prevent the inflammatory response, they cannot reverse inflammation once the chemical mediators have been released by the mast cells. Because these drugs are not as effective as inhaled corticosteroids in controlling asthma symptoms, they remain an alternative, but not preferred, treatment for manyt asthma patients. Nevertheless, Intal and Tilade can effectively keep inflammation at a minimum, especially for asthma cases that have strong allergy component.

There is yet no permanent cure for asthma, but regular use of controller medicines can make the risk of a major asthma attack far less likely.

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What Happens During an Asthma Attack

An asthma attack is a condition that requires immediate attention. Depending on the severity of episode, management may include monitoring your respiration and taking medication every day, even in the absence of symptoms. If you are diagnosed as an asthmatic, taking care of your asthma must become a part of your daily life routine. An asthma attack is something that must never be ignored, as this can lead to severe respiratory distress and even death.

Many people may not know it, but inflammation is the body’s way of defending itself against things that it perceives as foreign and harmful. For example, when pathogenic microorganisms such as viruses invade the respiratory tract, certain cells in the body release chemicals that produce inflammation around the foreign substance in an effort to isolate and destroy them. Remember, however, that although inflammation is a protective mechanism of the body, the development of such can be rather harmful if it occurs at the wrong time or continues after it is no longer needed.

Since our lungs are accustomed to inhaling air that contains irritants (e.g. bacteria, viruses, dust mites, cigarette smoke, pet dander, pollens) 24 hours a day, they have developed some special means of coping with these things, and normally, an inflammatory response does not occur. Nevertheless, the lungs of asthmatic individuals are more sensitive to the said irritants, and their immune system develops an exaggerated response by releasing certain cells and chemicals to the airways. When mast cells, for example, release several chemical mediators such as histamine, cytokines, leukotrienes, bradykinin, prostaglandins, as well as neutrophils, eosinophils, and lymphocytes, the following changes occur in the airways:

• The respiratory linings become swollen or inflamed, thereby narrowing the space through which air can pass through.
• The respiratory muscles go into spasm, which narrows the airways even more.
• The mucus glands of the respiratory tract may secrete lots of mucus, which occludes the airways even more.

All these changes obstruct the normal flow of air in and out of the lungs, making it difficult for asthmatics to breathe. They may also suffer from wheezes, cough, as well as chest tightness.

Asthmatic individuals can develop ongoing inflammation that makes the airways over reactive to environmental irritants. Having said that, if the inflammation is not controlled each time your airways are exposed to your asthma triggers, the inflammation increases, and you are likely to manifest the symptoms mentioned above. This is also known as bronchial hyperresponsiveness.

Asthma, just like diabetes, is a chronic disease. This means that once you develop the condition, it’s likely that you will have it for the rest of your life. Since it’s chronic, it cannot be permanently cured. So, even if symptoms don’t come up and you’re feeling totally fine, the asthma remains and can flare up anytime.

Fortunately, asthma is better understood today than a decade ago. With that said, today’s asthmatics should be able to manage their condition better than their parents did in the past. Before, being diagnosed with asthma meant living a life full of restrictions. However, that is not the case anymore. Today, people with asthma can live a normal active life if they choose to. By managing asthma effectively, their condition can be kept under control.

Although managing an asthma, or asthma attack for that matter, sounds like a troublesome feat, working closely with your doctor can make things a lot easier. Of course, there are many things to learn, but eventually, managing your condition will become such a part of your daily routine that you will just go ahead and do it almost automatically.

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Asthma Remedies You Can Do at Home

Asthma is a common respiratory disease that affects millions of people around the world. Although more commonly seen in young children and teens, many adults also do suffer from such condition. Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which the airways narrow and swell. When left untreated, the airways produce mucus, making breathing more difficult. The most common asthma signs and symptoms include wheezing, tight feeling in the chest, difficulty breathing, and coughing.

Current asthma remedies include both non-pharmacological and pharmacological management. When it comes to non-pharmacological treatment, prophylaxis is the primary concern. In this approach, a patient is educated about the causes of asthma and the possible ways to avoid these causes.

Causes or Triggers of Asthma

The majority of people think of asthma in terms of episodes or attacks. The truth is, asthma is always present in affected individuals, but symptoms may be dormant until “triggered,” that is, unless something happens to aggravate the asthma. Asthma triggers do not usually bother most asthmatics when in fact they can make inflamed airways worse. The following are some factors that are known to cause or bring about asthma symptoms or make symptoms a whole lot worse.

• Exposure to allergens such as dust, mold, pollen, animal dander, and some foods
• Air irritants such as smoke, dirt, gases, paints, perfumes, and other strong odors or fumes
• Respiratory infections (bacterial and viral)
• Weather conditions, especially cold, windy weather
• Physical activity (also known as exercise-induced asthma)
• Strong emotions and stress
• Some medications
• Other health problems such as obesity and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Asthma Remedies: Ways to Avoid Triggers

While it is impossible to make your home completely allergen- or irritant-free, there are several things you can do to reduce your family’s exposure to triggers. Here are some tips that may help.

• Do not smoke or allow anyone else smoke in your home. Avoid smoke-filled areas.

• Pollen exposure can be reduced by staying at home with windows closed and with air-conditioning on during times of high pollen counts. Times vary with allergens, so ask your allergist.

• Reduce exposure to dust mites by covering mattresses and pillows with special allergy-proof encasings, washing the beddings in hot water every week, removing stuffed toys from the bedroom, and vacuuming and dusting regularly. Other measures, which are more difficult on the budget, include reducing the humidity in the house using a dehumidifier or removing carpeting in the house, especially in the bedroom. Make sure that bedrooms located in basements are not be carpeted.

• If allergic to pet dander, the only truly effective way of reducing exposure to animal allergens is to avoid having one in the home. If this is not possible, be sure to keep them out of the bedroom and consider using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in the bedroom.

• Mold infestation is often due to high levels of indoor moisture, usually resulting from water damage due to roof and pipe leakages as well as flooding. Fix any sources of water leakage. To control indoor humidity, use exhaust fans in high-moisture areas such as the bathrooms and kitchen. Adding a dehumidifier also helps. Immediately clean mold-contaminated areas with anti-mold agent and water.

• Avoid indoor irritants by using unscented cleaning products and avoiding air fresheners or scented candles.

You can avoid elements that trigger an asthma attack or episode in many ways. Have an action plan which includes the above tips and which allows you to estimate whether an asthmatic member of the family is doing well, getting worse, or is in a state where he or she is in need of emergency care.

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Harmful But Not Unhealthy Anti-hypothyroidism Diet

Quite too often, we hear, “we are what we eat.” Those people who have to live with family or hereditary predispositions learn this lesson the hard way. After a lifetime of eating something you were told not to eat, the time for reckoning comes. Those with hypothyroidism in the family realize after years of consuming unsuitable foods, that their family predisposition could have been avoided had they stuck to an anti-hypothyroidism diet.

Hypothyroidism Basics

Low thyroid secretion of hormones or hypothyroidism is thought to be among the most underdiagnosed medical or health conditions in the United States. Most of its symptoms – lethargy, depression, and weight gain – are nonspecific or are associated with other possible causes or factors. Thus, hypothyroidism is difficult to diagnose. There are good reasons to believe that approximately 15 percent of the Americans struggle from the condition and others fear that more are actually afflicted. The incidence goes higher with age and with menopause among women.

The effects of hypothyroidism can be severe – cretinism and mental retardation among young children, fetal deformation for pregnant women, metabolic anomalies, goiter, etc. Nevertheless, it can be avoided with the right anti-hypothyroidism diet.

Goitrogens and Hypothyroidism

• People with the genetic predisposition for hypothyroidism can elude the disorder by choosing the right diet. The right diet must not include any foodstuff that contains goitrogens. These naturally occurring substances found in certain food interfere with the production and secretion of the thyroid hormones.

• These include some of the common healthy foods such as spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, peanuts, kale, radishes, soybeans, pine nuts, peaches, and millet. However, by cooking these veggies, many of these loathed goitrogens are deactivated by heat. This means that not all healthy foods for other folks are healthy for those with family history for hypothyroidism, for those women who are at or near menopause, and those who are already diagnosed with the affliction.

• Conversely, people who are predisposed or diagnosed with hypothyroidism need to fortify their diet with at least a dozen of vitamins and minerals. Iodine can be easily added to the diet by using iodized salt; the alternative and more reliable source is the consumption of seafood. Remember that the solution is not to have iodine in excessive amounts; rather work around the adequate amount. Getting fortification using iodized salt, however, may be adequate to prevent goiter but not to reverse other metabolic side effects. Therefore, it is important to have a good balance of nutrients.

• Some rich dietary sources of tyrosine are fish, oats, dairy, sesame seeds, bananas, avocados, and almonds are all good sources of tyrosine. Certain goitrogenic foods like soybeans, spinach, mustard greens, and cabbage are high in tyrosine. To deactivate goitrogens, cook these veggies first.

• Antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E as well as Zinc, vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12 are also essential in improving thyroid function. Seafood, eggs, and dairy can also help create a good base for protein-rich diets. Always remember to keep them in balanced quantities.

• Use purified water even when cooking. This will reduce the amount of fluoride when cooking. Black and green teas, which are also high in fluoride, must similarly be avoided.

• Use cold-pressed olive oil and nuts in cooking as these are great sources too of Vitamin B and E as well as whole grains, and whole-wheat bread for naturally occurring B vitamins, zinc, and fiber.

People with hypothyroidism can enjoy many great-tasting and easy-to-prepare recipes. These recipes along with mean plans can help those who need to anti-hypothyroidism diet to avoid the worsening of their medical conditions. There are huge online resources that are available to everyone interested to stay away from harmful but unnecessarily unhealthy foods.

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