Practitioner Blog
Viral Infections

Asthma: Breath Easy

Without breath we cannot survive. Asthma can make it challenging for many to catch their breath. During an asthmatic attack your respiratory tract becomes inflamed, mucus starts to build up and the muscles in your airways tighten. The resulting symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Symptoms range in severity from mild to potentially life threatening. These symptoms often first appear in childhood but may also develop in adults. The causes of asthma are not fully understood. Asthma is a type of allergic response that involves our respiratory tract overreacting to trigger substances. Common triggers include:

  • Allergens: dust, pollens, grass, moulds
  • Irritants: smoke, pollution, chemicals, cold air
  • Viral infections (cold/flu)
  • Exercise

The best strategy to prevent asthma attacks is to avoid whenever possible these potential triggers. An annual flu shot and frequent hand washing can reduce your risk of viral infections. Also consider staying indoors during those times when the pollen counts are high or the grass is freshly cut. Wear a mask when you might be exposed to dust, moulds or strong chemicals. Stop smoking and stay clear of smoky areas. On cold days make sure to bundle up. A journal can be a useful tool to help you identify your asthma triggers. It is important to work with your doctor to develop a clear asthma action plan to manage your symptoms. Prescription medications can help to control asthma your symptoms. Inhalers (puffers) can help to either relieve or prevent asthma attacks. Mild symptoms can often be controlled using a fast-acting bronchodilator inhaler like salbutamol (Ventolin) as needed to help open up your airways. Those with more frequent symptoms are recommended to use a corticosteroid inhaler like fluticasone (Flovent) to prevent attacks by reducing inflammation. There are also combination puffers (eg. Advair, Symbicort) that contain long-acting bronchodilators with corticosteroids for those who asthma is not well controlled on a corticosteroids alone. Another key to controlling asthma symptoms is making sure you are using your inhaler correctly. A spacer device can be attached to most inhalers to assist in delivering the medication to your lungs. It is recommended that children who require inhalers to manage their asthma use a spacer. Make sure you ask your doctor or pharmacist if are unsure about your medications. At Pure Pharmacy we are here to help you breathe easy. Written By: Kristy Horner, B.Sc (Pharm)Pharmacist, Pure at Robson