Why Your Asthma Treatments Might Not Be Working for You
Managing a chronic pulmonary disease like asthma can be difficult and extremely stressful. Many things people take for granted can cause an asthma attack such as exercise, weather extremes, and environmental allergies. These can leave you feeling helpless if you have no way to control your exposure. Your best support for managing asthma can be medication. But what happens if it is not effective?
If you need to use a rescue inhaler more than twice a week this indicates that your asthma is severe or uncontrolled. There are a variety of ways to better support your pulmonary condition, but the first step is to find a medication that works best for your symptoms and your lifestyle.
If you are already on an asthma medication, ensure you are using the medication correctly and as prescribed by your healthcare team.
Types of Treatments
Many people rely on support medication to participate in regular activities like exercising and keeping up with family members. There is a wide variety of medications that can be easily incorporated into any lifestyle.
Nebulized Breathing Treatments
Nebulizer treatments are medications administered to the lungs via aerosol particles. A machine creates a mist using a flow of oxygen, compressed air, and in some cases ultrasonic energy to vaporize liquid medication, and the patient inhales the mist carrying the medication through a mouth piece. A face mask can also be used in cases when a person cannot always remember to breathe through their mouth.
Those who find themselves seeking emergency care for an asthma attack are familiar with nebulizer breathing treatments. The goal of these medications is to reach the constricted alveoli and loosen the muscles to allow proper oxygenation.
When taking a nebulized medication, make every attempt to breathe normally through your mouth. Take every fourth or fifth breath deeply, then continue to breathe normally. Taking continuous deep breaths can cause the medication to bypass the upper lobes of the lungs. So, be sure you return to a normal breathing pattern for the majority of the treatment.
Inhalers & MDIs
A meter dose inhaler (MDI) is designed to deliver a specific dose of medication to the lungs, often bronchodilators and corticosteroids. One problem people run into is the medication sticking to the inside of their mouths instead of remaining in the air to be inhaled.
If you are on a medication delivered via an inhaler or MDI, ask your doctor for a prescription for a spacer attachment. This device attaches to the mouth piece of the inhaler and suspends the medication in air. In the spacer, more medication remains suspended, not sticking to the sides of the device, so ample medication makes its way to the lungs.
If you do not use a spacer, ensure you are inhaling and pressing on the inhaler cartridge simultaneously so as to deliver the medication directly to the lungs as opposed to it settling in the mouth. Some complications, especially seen with corticosteroids, include thrush, an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth.
Pills & Tablets
There are many options for preventative asthma medications in pill and tablet forms that prevent the tightening of smooth muscles and minimize excess mucus in the airway.
- Allergy medications are often in pill form and help prevent asthma attacks brought on by environmental triggers.
- Oral systemic corticosteroids can be used longer term for the treatment of severe chronic cases or in the early stages of managing persistent asthma.
- Long-acting beta2-agonists (LABAs) are used along with anti-inflammatory medications. They can come in tablet form but are not as long acting and have more side effects than the inhaled form.
Whichever medications you are prescribed for the treatment and prevention of your asthma symptoms, talk with your doctor or respiratory therapist to review the instructions of each carefully.
Need a Change in Asthma Medicine
If you find your current asthma action plan is not preventing frequent asthma attacks or is less effective than before, know your options.
Asthma Maintenance Medication
Since your environment is unpredictable, it’s not always possible to avoid triggers like strong perfumes, smoke, or weather changes. Maintenance medications are taken regularly to avoid the exacerbating symptoms of asthma that can lead to an “attack”. Many people rely on their maintenance medications to continue an active, unrestricted lifestyle.
Types of common maintenance medications include:
- Leukotriene modifiers
Increase in medication Dosage
If you already take maintenance medications and are still requiring the use of rescue medication more than twice a week, ask your doctor if your current dosage should be adjusted. Remember, never experiment with your medication dosage. Consult your physician before making any changes to your asthma action plan.
Talk to Your Doctor If Your Breathing Treatments Aren’t Helping
Asthma action plans are not a one-size-fits-all plan to keep asthma from affecting your daily life. Let your care team know if your symptoms are not controlled under your current medications and asthma action plan.
Incorporating pulmonary rehabilitation into your treatment can also provide you with additional information on how to best manage asthma on your own. Lifeline Physical Therapy offers many resources for those living with chronic pulmonary disease. Reach out and learn how you can incorporate a new Lifeline Recovery Journey today.