People with asthma have what is called a chronic (pronounced: krah-nik), or long-lasting, problem with their airways. Everyday stuff, like animal dander or cigarette smoke, can trigger a flare-up. And a flare-up makes it hard to breathe because the airways can get swollen and clogged with mucus. The muscles around the airways can tighten up, too. Less air is able to get in and out of the lungs.
These immediately loosen the muscles around the airways, which opens up the airways and makes it easier to breathe. Rescue medications are usually inhaled directly into the lungs where they relieve wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath, often within minutes. The most common rescue medication is called a quick-acting bronchodilator (pronounced: brahn-ko-dye-lay-tur).
These decrease airway swelling and mucus, and work over a long period of time to help heal the airways and prevent asthma symptoms. They may be inhaled or taken as a pill or liquid. They're important because if taken regularly, they'll decrease the number of flare-ups you have.
The most common controller medications are called inhaled corticosteroids (pronounced: kor-tih-ko-stair-oyds). These are not the same thing as performance-enhancing steroids used by athletes — they only work in your lungs. They're safe and they're a proven form of treatment for asthma.
Rescue medications 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 rescue medications should always have them along — at school, on the basketball court, at the mall, and even on vacation.
But the effect of rescue medications wears off quickly. And rescue medications don't do anything to help prevent a flare-up from happening in the first place. That's where controller medications come in. These medicines may not seem to be doing anything — someone with asthma might not feel anything at all when taking them. But that doesn't mean they aren't working to keep asthma flare-ups from happening.
In fact, as their name suggests, controller medications are important for controlling asthma on a regular basis. Talk with your doctor about how often you use your rescue medicines. If it's too much, your doctor might also prescribe controller medication for you.
Some people with mild asthma use only rescue medications; others with more severe asthma have to take controller medications every day in addition to using rescue medications when they have symptoms.
If you have asthma, your doctor will decide what type of medication you need and how often you need to take it.
|American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.|
|American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The ACAAI is an organization of allergists-immunologists and health professionals dedicated to quality patient care. Contact them at: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology|
85 W. Algonquin Road
Suite 550 Arlington Heights, IL 60005
|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
|AIRNow A cross-agency U.S. government website, AIRNow provides useful air quality information, including daily Air Quality Index forecasts and details on conditions in more than 300 U.S. cities.|
|Asthma Action Plan Use this printable sheet to help manage your asthma.|
|Dealing With an Asthma Flare-Up Asthma flare-ups, or attacks, can be handled, but it's even better if you can prevent them from happening. Find out how to deal with flare-ups.|
|How Can I Deal With My Asthma? Asthma is more common these days than it used to be. The good news is it's also a lot easier to manage and control.|
|What's an Asthma Flare-Up? An asthma flare-up (or attack) can cause coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing. Sometimes, symptoms can be severe. Find out what causes flare-ups and what you can do in this article.|
|Asthma Center Visit our Asthma Center for information and advice on managing and living with asthma.|
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