Asthma is a severe lung disease affecting over 25 million Americans that is almost one in ten. The incidence of asthma is higher in many other countries almost 15% of the world population suffers from some type of asthma- mild, acute or chronic. People with this ailment have very sensitive airways which become irritated, narrow and constricted during an attack. This causes increased resistance to airflow and difficulty in breathing.
Most often asthma and breathing difficulty is treated with prescription medicines. There are two main types of medicines for the treatment of asthma. One type is the quick relief or rescue medicines and the other is long term preventive drugs. Rescue medications are administered when asthma symptoms worsen and there is a difficulty in breathing. These are called rescue drugs because they can literally save the life of the patient when the attack occurs. They start working within few minutes.
The other type of drugs is Long-term control medicines which can prevent the asthma attacks from happening. These are taken daily over long periods of time, to control chronic symptoms and to prevent asthma attacks. The full effects of these medicines are felt after taking them for a few weeks. People with persistent asthma need long-term these. Singulair a popular drug falls under this group.
Some asthma drugs used for asthma treatment resemble our hormones. The common hormone based medicines adrenaline and hydrocortisone (a steroid). Adrenaline (epinephrine) is pumped into our bloodstream when we are in emergency situation of fight or flight. This gives us tremendous surge of energy. It is the quick-acting hormone from the adrenal glands near our kidneys. It makes our pulse race, heart beat faster and readies our body for emergency action. Epinephrine based asthma drugs relieve the obstruction in our respiratory tract quickly.
Other fast asthma medicine resembling our hormones is cortisones. These are secreted from outer part or the cortex of our adrenal glands. This is also a rescue medicine but its effects are slower but last longer. They reduce the inflammation in the respiratory tract and make the linings in air tubes smooth. Due this the severity of asthma attack and air flow obstruction is reduced.
Bronchodilators are also used for rescue and they function by relaxing the muscles that have constricted around the airways. They open up airways quickly and make breathing easy. Asthmatics should take quick relief medicines as soon the first symptoms of asthma like coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath are experienced. All asthmatic patients should always carry an inhaler with them all the time. These fast acting medicines are used only in emergency as and when needed.
In some cases, the asthma doctors may prescribe steroids in oral form. These oral steroids can relieve severe asthma. Many people with asthma are now prescribed short acting bronchodilating medicines and well long term preventive drugs. In all cases the medicines you are prescribed for asthma will not be fixed. Your doctor may experiment with various combination of medicines, increase or decrease the dosages and arrive at the best treatment for you.