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Chronic Asthma Information

By Allan Wilson

Not everyone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease suffers from chronic asthma, but many individuals who experience emphysema or chronic bronchitis have asthma-like symptoms. Medical experts continue to debate whether chronic asthma should be classified as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, since asthma can be reversed.

Chronic asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways; the term asthma is derived from an ancient Greek word which means panting. With chronic asthma, the inflammation leads to the narrowing of the airways, which can cause wheezing, breathlessness, and gasping for air.

Studies indicate that chronic asthma involves two stages: the hyper-reactive response and the inflammatory response. The hyper-reactive response in chronic asthma refers to the constriction of the airways in response to inhaled irritants, while the inflammatory stage involves the production of white blood cells in the airways.

During a chronic asthma attack, the muscle tissue in the walls of the bronchi experiences spasms, causing labored breathing. With chronic asthma, coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing occur almost everyday. In order to combat chronic asthma, several medications may be needed.

Some medical experts speculate that the persistent symptoms of chronic asthma indicate a food allergy. As a result, some doctors encourage those suffering from chronic asthma to revise their diets in order to reduce the incidence of flare-ups.

There are some other simple strategies one can follow in order to alleviate symptoms of chronic asthma. These include removing the cause of chronic asthma, treating the symptoms, or altering the host to be more tolerant of the causes.

If you've been diagnosed with chronic asthma, medical experts suggest stopping all smoking and banning cigarette smoke from the house. Chronic asthma patients should also stop the use of volatile chemicals, which may exacerbate one's symptoms. Ending contact with pets can also alleviate chronic asthma.

The aims of any treatment program for chronic asthma should include: avoiding the trigger factors for chronic asthma, eliminating symptoms, restoring normal lung function, reducing the incidence of severe attacks, and minimizing the side-effects of drugs.

Drug therapy for chronic asthma can fall into three categories. Chronic asthma can be attacked with preventors or anti-inflammatories; relievers, which provide acute relief of symptoms; and controllers, which provide a sustained bronchodilator action with a mild anti-inflammatory action.

It should be noted that there are some misconceptions about the treatment of chronic asthma. For instance, antihistamines do not appear to be an effective chronic asthma treatment strategy. Immunosuppressives such as methotrexate are rarely beneficial for chronic asthma, and acupuncture has a negligible effect.

The basic goals of educating those with chronic asthma include an ability to understand the nature of asthma, an understanding of different types of asthma medication, an understanding of prevention strategies, knowing the correct use of inhalers, and recognizing signs of worsening asthma.

Interestingly enough, chronic asthma is often misdiagnosed in the elderly. Also, older people are more susceptible to the side-effects of drugs used to treat chronic asthma. As a result, senior citizens need special prevention strategies for chronic asthma.

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