Asthma is a chronic condition that affects a person's respiratory system. The number of people with this condition is on the increase and currently there are believed to be 5.4 million people who suffer from it in the UK. It can cause breathing difficulties, particularly if a person comes into contact with environmental irritants. This is because people who suffer have inflamed airways that are very sensitive. Symptoms develop when airways constrict and start to produce phlegm.
When a person has asthma, an effective management plan is extremely important and will reduce the likelihood of you developing symptoms or an asthma attack. A treatment plan may include the avoidance of triggers and the use of preventative treatments and relievers.
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When an asthmatic person comes in contact with irritants, it causes the muscles around the bronchioles to contract. When these ring-like muscles contract, they cause airways to become narrower. In addition to this the airways of patients are already inflamed, restricting breathing even further and causing the production of extra mucous.
Together all of these actions can make it very difficult for a sufferer to breathe, as fresh air can't reach the lungs via the bronchiole. If this is allowed to worsen it can eventually lead to an attack.
It is not fully understood why some people have this condition, but the majority of people who do seem to have some sort of predisposition to it. It is thought that factors such as a mother smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of her child getting asthma.
Factors that increase a patient's risk of experiencing symptoms are known as triggers. Not all patients are sensitive to the same triggers and they can be anything such as food, dust mites, some types of viruses and bacteria, chemicals, scents, smoke, strenuous exercise or air pollutants to name a few. It's important to know what your triggers are and to avoid them when possible or to be prepared with the right medications when exposure is unavoidable.
They are very distinct and may occur sporadically during the day, at night while you are sleeping, after exercising or after exposure to irritants. These include: Breathlessness, wheezing, tightness around the chest or coughing up of mucous. These aren't always severe, but even if you've only ever experienced mild symptoms, you can still benefit from managing your condition effectively.
In rare cases children may 'outgrow it' or some people may even experience a lack of symptoms just for it to return years later. However for the majority of people it is a lifelong condition that requires proper management. Luckily there are many different treatments that can help you ensure that your asthma remains under control and that you are comfortable.
Treatments can usually be divided into two groups: preventers and relievers. Both types of treatments are most commonly administered with the help of an inhalation device so that they can get to work inside the lungs where they can provide the most benefit. However, they can also be administered in other forms. Preventers are daily treatments that contain corticosteroids most of the time. This is a natural steroid that works against airway inflammation. Reducing inflammation in airways can make them less sensitive and with time can also help ease breathing.
Relievers are used as and when they are needed because they help to relax airways when they suddenly become tight due to exposure to an irritant. They work as bronchodilators. Relievers such as Ventolin are normally recommended alongside preventers in a patients asthma management programme.
If you would like to have your preventer or reliever inhaler delivered to your door, you can place an order online at 121doc. To ensure patient safety we ask all our patients to complete an online consultation form so that our partner doctors can make sure that you are prescribed a treatment online if it's safe for you to use. Approved orders are sent to the pharmacy from where treatments are shipped with a secure overnight or next day courier service. If you live in the London area you may even receive your treatment in as little as 2 hours.