There are 25.7 million people in the US who suffer from asthma. 439,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,400 people die as a direct result of the illness each year. While the condition affects sufferers indiscriminately, adults with lower incomes are likelier to have a higher number of asthma attacks than more affluent sufferers.
This raises the question: If medication was more affordable, would there be fewer hospitalizations? Online pharmacies like Medix support patients struggling to keep asthma costs down, however there are still those who don’t understand their condition.
In this article, we cover the most common queries we receive on asthma and provide guidance on how best to meet your healthcare needs.
1. What is asthma?
Asthma is a long-term condition that affects the airways. These airways carry air in and out of the lungs – for asthma sufferers, these airways are sensitive and often become inflamed and tighten when breathing in anything that could irritate the lungs. The irritation causes the airways to narrow, leading to a tight chest and wheezing.
The condition typically runs in families. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, around 60% of cases are hereditary. However, there are a few precautions you can take in order to delay adult-onset asthma (AOA). These include but aren’t limited to:
- Maintain a normal weight
- Limit levels of stress
- Restrict contact with pets
- Avoid tobacco smoke
Avoiding triggers like the above won’t guarantee asthma prevention, but a healthy lifestyle will limit any life-threatening attacks.
2. Can asthma be cured?
No. While asthma is a controllable illness and symptoms can be reduced, there is unfortunately no cure. Despite the work of various organizations, there is still a way to go in terms of scientific research. However, there are a variety of treatments that are paving the way for a higher quality of life.
To assist with the removal of asthma symptoms, identify the type of asthma you have. All forms of the condition will cause long-term inflammation, an increase in mucous and sensitive airways. However, they can be divided into the below categories:
- Bronchial asthma
- Childhood asthma
- Adult-onset asthma
- Occupational asthma
- Allergic asthma
- Non-allergic asthma
- Mild asthma
- Severe asthma
- Intermittent asthma
- Persistent asthma
- Silent asthma
- Fragile asthma
- Coughing asthma
- Viral-induced asthma
Almost all of the above afflictions are triggered by the same environmental components. Similarly, medications that are dispensed for one of the above tend to also manage the other forms of asthma.
3. Why is asthma worse at night?
It is not necessarily the time of day that is restricting your breathing, but more the act of lying down. The distribution of gravity on your chest puts additional pressure on your lungs. Similarly, your bed could be laden with dust mite allergens, slowly being inhaled while you rest.
However, there are some who argue that nocturnal asthma is indeed an additional form of the condition. Your body’s circadian rhythm, an internal clock that leads to rises and drops in hormone production, is at its lowest in the early hours in the morning. This is what causes sufferers to wake in the night, wheezing and struggling to shake an immediate cough.
4. Can I stop taking asthma medication regularly?
Even in cases where patients have mild asthma, medication is used to handle the regular symptoms that can still reduce the quality of your life if not dealt with. In addition, long-term inflammation in your airways can cause permanent damage to your lungs if not controlled. Simply by ceasing to take your medication, you can increase the likelihood of experiencing a severe, life-threatening asthma attack.
If you are feeling yourself again after experiencing a flurry of asthma-related symptoms, never stop taking medication unless advised. Your doctor is best positioned to determine whether or not you should stop taking asthma medication – doing otherwise could cause lifelong damage.
5. Can I use allergy medication or alternative therapies?
Allergy medicine can help ease some of the symptoms of asthma. If pollen allergies are harming your inhalation and causing irritation, then antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids will reduce some of the inflammation. Additionally, if your nasal passages are blocked, then the use of sprays can help you regain the use of your nose for breathing. This helps to filter, warm and humidify the air you breathe into your lungs.
We do not recommend alternative therapies. In general, ‘alternative medicine’ has not been conclusively proven to aid those afflicted by asthma. Alternative medicine that has been proven to ease the lives of sufferers is simply called medicine. However, there are many practitioners who claim such therapies help asthma suffers. So, if you decide to try an alternative therapy, ensure you tell your physician first.
6. Can I take asthma medication if I’m pregnant?
If you’re pregnant, then prescribed asthma medication is necessary. Having poor control over your condition during pregnancy creates a greater risk to your child than medicine. Your airways have to supply two now – steady breathing has never been so important.
The majority of medication is safe to take during the pregnancy months. However, you should be taking the lowest amount of medication that controls your asthma. All of your concerns can be relayed either to your doctor or one of our pharmacists. They will explain the risks and benefits in a way that addresses any concerns you may have.
7. Should I move across the country to limit asthma attacks?
While it is commonly advised that sufferers should relocate to where it is drier, statistically there is little difference between American states. People with asthma living in the West (54.5%) and South (53.1%) are only slightly more likely to report an asthma attack than residents of the Midwest (49.4%) and Northeast (47.8%).
Usually, the home environment provides much more aggravations than external environmental factors. Houses contain triggers like furniture and old carpets that store dust mites, pet dander and mold for instance.
If you would like guidance on your condition or require assistance in affording your asthma medication, please get in touch. Our pharmacists are equipped with the knowledge to support those affected by asthma, and we are committed to giving clients a resolution that works for everyone.