Just before we discuss this topic, you need to know that there are two types of asthma sprays. Reliever sprays work within three minutes to relieve asthma, but they wear off quickly, and do nothing to get rid of the red, angry, inflamed airways in your lungs. Preventer sprays work slowly, over days, and they do NOT relieve sudden attacks. But they do settle down angry airways and decease mucus (slime) in the chest, making sudden attacks much less likely. Got it? In Australia, the reliever sprays are: Asmol, Ventolin, Epaq, Bricanyl, Airomir and Atrovent. In Australia, the preventer sprays are: Alvesco, Qvar, Pulmicort, Flixotide, and weaker ones that are useful in certain conditions are Tilade, Intal and Intal Forte. Combination preventer and symptom controller sprays can be very useful. These include Seretide and Symbicort. Look up the names of these products in your part of the world. A non-steroid tablet called Singulair is sometimes used for mild asthma, especially in children, and an old-fashioned oral drug called theophylline has a very limited role these days.
Now, why would you want to control your asthma? After all, two or three puffs of a reliever spray a few times per day is easy, gives quick relief, and doesn’t take any commitment. BUT this means that your asthma is controlling you. If your asthma controls you, this is what happens: Your blood oxygen is lower than normal, this produces fatigue, and you don’t perform as well in school, work, sport or play Your sleep pattern is upset and this worsens your fatigue You are much more susceptible to severe attacks which might require resuscitation in hospital Only YOU can make the decision to control your asthma, rather than letting it control you.
So, how do you do it? It’s as simple as TPA…
ONE – ALWAYS, ALWAYS understand the Triggers for your asthma. Check out the A to K of asthma triggers on this site with yourself, with your doctor, and with your specialist. The management of your asthma is not complete until you have understood and treated all the triggers for your asthma. IN PARTICULAR, every person who has had asthma treatment in the last 12 months should have a skin test or blood test to check for airborne allergies, such as dust mite, pollens, pets, or moulds. Speak to your doctor.
TWO – Add a Preventer 1. If you use a reliever spray more than three times per week (excluding exercise) 2. If you feel as though you could use a reliever spray more than three times per week (excluding exercise) 3. If you ever wake up at night needing a reliever spray
THREE – Get yourself an Action Plan so that you know how to prevent an attack, or control an attack should it occur. You can’t have an effective action plan until you understand steps one and two! For example, if you know that you get asthma every time you get a cold or the flu, then get in early. As soon as you develop symptoms of a cold or the flu (sore throat, fever, glands in neck, blocked snuffly nose with dirty discharge, feeling lousy, aches and pains), DON’T WAIT for it to go to your chest – start your preventer spray and see your doctor. Another example. If you know that you get asthma every time you stay at your girlfriend’s (or boyfriend’s) place because of his/her cat, take an antihistamine tablet two hours BEFORE you go, and review your asthma action plan. Speak to your doctor. Often a written asthma action plan is very useful.
OK, that’s it. One, two, three….. To-Prevent-Asthma [TPA] think Triggers-Preventers-Action Plan [TPA]
You will find more advice on some of the links on this site.