People with asthma have what is called a chronic (say: KRAH-nik) problem, or a problem that is always there, even when they feel OK. Everyday stuff such as exercise, pets, or cigarette smoke can cause an asthma flare-up.
During an asthma flare-up, the airways (breathing tubes where air moves in and out of the lungs) get swollen (puffy). These narrowed airways (breathing tubes) also can get clogged with mucus. And the muscles around the airways can tighten up. All of this makes it tough to breathe.
But medicine can help. There are two different kinds of medicines for treating asthma:
Quick-relief medicines (also called rescue or fast-acting medicines) can loosen the muscles around the airways. That opens up the airways and makes it easier to breathe. Quick-relief medicines are usually inhaled (breathed) right into the lungs, where they stop wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath quickly. In other words, they give quick relief to a person who's having trouble breathing!
Long-term control medicines (also called controller or maintenance medicines) work over a long period of time by keeping the airways from getting swollen in the first place. They may be inhaled or taken as a pill or liquid.
Quick-relief medicines are important during a flare-up because they help someone breathe more easily right away. That means anyone who has asthma and has been prescribed quick-relief medicines should always have them along — at school, on the basketball court, at the mall, and even on vacation.
But quick-relief medicines don't do anything to help prevent an asthma flare-up. That's where long-term control medicines come in. These medicines might not seem to be doing anything. In fact, a kid with asthma might not feel anything at all when taking them. But these medicines are quietly doing important work to control asthma every day.
Some people with mild asthma use only quick-relief medicines when they have flare-ups. Others who have more severe asthma must take quick-relief medicines when they have breathing problems and they need to take long-term control medicines every day.
If you have asthma, your doctor will decide which type of medication you need and how often you need to take it.
|American Lung Association The mission of this group is to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Contact the group at: American Lung Association|
61 Broadway, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10006
|AAAAI Just for Kids This Just for Kids page from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology offers lots of fun activities to help you learn about managing your allergies and asthma.|
|Handling an Asthma Flare-Up How can you prepare for an asthma flare-up? Find out in this article for kids.|
|Asthma Center Asthma means breathing problems. Find out what's going on in the lungs and how to stay healthy, if you have it.|
|What Medicines Are and What They Do You've taken medicine before. But what is it?|
|Asthma Asthma can cause a person's airways to get swollen and irritated, making it hard to breathe. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|What's an Asthma Flare-Up? A kid who has asthma might have an asthma attack (or flare-up). Find out more in this article for kids.|
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