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How to Treat Asthma

Treating asthma is tough, so prevention is #1.

By
Rob Lamberts, MD
5-minute read
Episode #33

Asthma and Steroids

But relaxing the muscles only does half of the job; the underlying problem is inflammation, which is caused by white blood cells in the airways releasing substances that cause swelling of the bronchi. The medications used to treat inflammation are inhaled steroids. No, I’m not referring to the kind of steroids that will make you big and burley; I’m talking about steroids, like cortisone, that are given to reduce inflammation. That’s just like the hydrocortisone that you put on a skin rash to reduce the redness and swelling, except that it’s given for the lungs and inhaled.

When a person is really sick with asthma, they are given oral or even intravenous steroids to quickly reduce asthma. These medicines are really strong, but also have significant side effects, so they should only be given when necessary. Obviously, a person dying from asthma doesn’t worry about side effects.

How to Prevent Asthma Attacks

The ultimate goal is to prevent asthma attacks altogether. The rule of thumb is that people who use a bronchodilator like albuterol more than twice a week or those who wake up with asthma symptoms more than twice a month should be on preventive therapy. That is important because people who have mild but persistent symptoms are just as likely to die from asthma as those with severe symptoms. That is really important, so I am going to restate it: If you need a bronchodilator more than twice a week or wake up more than twice a month with symptoms, your asthma could kill you!  Get it treated!  Don’t ignore it!

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Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.