Welcome to the UT ASP homepage for the Project Breathe committee! Whether you’re trying to better control your asthma or you’re on the path to quit smoking, we hope that the information here can help you breathe a little easier!
According to recent CDC reports, it is estimated that over 25 million people in the U.S. are currently living with asthma, including over 7 million children. When asthma is not properly managed, it can result in serious asthma attacks that can lead to hospitalization, and even death. What many people don’t realize is how easy it can be to control!
How it works:
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs marked by symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing, especially at night or in the early morning. This is often caused by certain triggers that cause your airways to tighten and become filled with fluid, making it difficult for air to flow in and out as usual.
When this occurs, it is known as an “asthma attack.” Asthma attacks are easy to recognize if you know what you’re looking for. Often the person will be coughing or wheezing, and might be clutching their chest. In some cases, they may develop a bluish tint to their lips and fingernails, indicating a severe lack of oxygen. If the attack cannot be controlled by either getting away from whatever trigger caused it, or using proper rescue medication, a trip to the ER may be unavoidable. The best way to prevent this is to have constant control over the asthma, and to keep asthma attacks from happening in the first place.
Two of the biggest factors in controlling asthma are:1) Avoiding triggers 2) The proper use of medications
Triggers are anything that can induce asthma symptoms, and are specific to the individual with asthma. Each person needs to examine their lifestyle to determine what triggers they are susceptible to and how best to avoid them. Though any number of things can be a trigger, some of the most common are the following:
- Tobacco smoke
- Pet dander
- Cold, dry air
Though avoiding triggers is important, it often isn’t enough to control more severe asthma symptoms. In these cases, medication is required.
When first diagnosed with asthma, each individual should be given an albuterol inhaler. Albuterol is the “rescue” medication that is fast-acting and effective when administered during an asthma attack. However, this is not a medication that should be used often. If a asthmatic person if using their rescue inhaler more than twice per week, they most likely need to start using a daily medication intended for prevention.
These daily medications are called inhaled corticosteroids, and must be used every single day in order to be effective. They work by reducing the amount of inflammation and mucus in the airways, and are incredibly effective at improving lung function and reducing the number of asthma attacks. Though these medications are often enough to keep asthma under control, there are other options available for those that remain uncontrolled even on high daily doses. For more information on these options, follow this link:
Asthma Action Plans
Since many of these inhalers look very similar, it can be difficult keeping up with how and when to use each one. This is especially an issue with children, who often need an adult’s supervision when using their medication. Even if the child’s parents are knowledgable, it can be a struggle if an asthma attack occurs at school or in any another situation where the parent is not present. In these cases, asthma action plans can make all the difference. It is highly encouraged to have an action plan at any location at which the child spends a significant amount of time, such as school, day care, or the houses of friends and family.