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The remedies for asthma

What causes asthma? how can this chronic inflammatory condition be treated and controlled?


A chronic disease

 Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by increased bronchial responsiveness to a variety of stimuli, leading to paroxysmal attacks of bronchospasm, a narrowing of the airways caused by the contraction of smooth muscles that encircle the bronchi. Such attacks can resolve spontaneously or may require medical, sometimes emergency, treatment.


An asthmatic attack, which can last from a few minutes to hours, is characterized by sudden onset of dyspnea (difficulty breathing), mainly during expiration, as well as by wheezing, cough, hisses and, in the later stages, by the expectoration of a thick mucous, which provides somewhat relief to patients.


Multi cause factor

Depending on the causative factors, bronchial asthma is generally classified in extrinsic (atopic or allergic) asthma and intrinsic (non-atopic) asthma. Extrinsic asthma generally begins in childhood and is often accompanied by other allergic conditions, such as allergic rhinitis, eczema and hives. It can have both a seasonal pattern, when it is associated with inhalation of seasonal pollens, as well as it can be perennial, when it is caused by inhalation of dust mites or pet dander. Intrinsic asthma is typical of adulthood. Although there is some genetic predisposition to intrinsic asthma, it has been shown that air pollution and respiratory infections play a major causative role.


In both extrinsic and extrinsic asthma, symptoms vary from minor wheezing to severe, even life-threatening, asthmatic attacks. They may be occasional or continuous, or they may occur only in certain conditions, such as at night or during exercise. That's why treatment has to be tailored individually.


Currently asthma has no cure, but symptoms can usually be controlled. Symptomatic treatment and health education of patients must go together to achieve maximum results.

Patients with asthma should aim to:

1- avoid risk factors (allergens, pollution, smoke, infections, smoke or excessive exercise when symptoms occur only during exercise)

2- adequately evaluate the severity of their asthmatic crisis, in order to take proper preventive or therapeutic measures

3- self-administer emergency medications, in case of severe attacks

4- see the doctor regularly in order to monitor their condition and change individual therapeutic plan, if necessary.


How to treat Asthma?*

Medications used to keep asthma under control include: 1) antiallergic or immunotherapeutic agents, to treat allergy-induced asthma, 2) long-term control medications (inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta-2 agonists, leukotriene modifiers and the bronchodilator theofylline), to treat persistent asthma, and 3) quick-relief medications (oral or parenteral corticosteroids, short-acting beta-2 agonists), that should only be used for quick short-term relief of acute symptoms during an asthma attack.


Complementary and alternative treatment methods can provide some benefit as well, since many patients report that symptoms improve by using methods such as acupuncture, phytotherapy, homeopathy, reflexology, as well as breath and relaxation techniques like yoga. However more detailed studies are necessary to confirm the efficacy of such methods.


In any case asthma is a chronic condition that often requires long-term use of medications on a daily basis.

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*Always seek professional medical advise from a qualified doctor before undergoing any treatment.