Asthma is a condition that affects your lungs and keeps you from breathing normally. During an asthma episode, you may cough a lot and feel short of breath. You may make wheezing sounds and feel tightening in your chest.
First, the muscles that surround the small airways in your lungs contract and will not release, so the passageways become rigid and even smaller. Next, mucus flows into the airways, further obstructing air flow. Finally, the passageways become inflamed and swollen.
Inhalation Therapy To help you breathe more comfortably, your doctor may want you to use "inhalation therapy." Inhalation therapy delivers the medicine you need directly to your lungs. You will use a metered-dose inhaler to breathe the medicine in through your mouth. Sometimes a device called a spacer or holding chamber is attached to the inhaler to make it easier to breathe in the medicine.
Your metered-dose inhaler will contain one of two types of medicine.
Asthma relievers relieve asthma attacks by relaxing the muscles in your chest and clearing mucus from the lungs. A bronchodilator might be called a short-acting "beta agonist" and is used for acute symptoms and designed for quick relief. You should never stop using this type of medicine without first checking with your doctor. You should also tell your doctor if you need more than 12 inhalations of the medicine a day to relieve your symptoms.
Asthma controllers work to reduce the irritation and swelling in the small airways before symptoms occur. As with the bronchodilators, you should not stop using the medicine without talking to your doctor, and you should not take more than
What You Need To Know About Inhaler Medicines Before you begin using your metered-dose inhaler, ask your doctor or pharmacist to answer these questions:
What is the name of my medicine?
What is my medicine supposed to do for me? Am I supposed to use my medicine only when I have an asthma attack, or use it to prevent attack?
What side effects may occur?
How should I handle these side effects?
What should I do if the medicine does not seem to work?
It is a good idea to write down, or ask your doctor or pharmacist to write down the answers to these questions.
Using a Peak-Flow Meter Your doctor may give you a "peak-flow meter" to help you measure how well you are able to blow air out of your lungs. Your doctor will probably want you to measure your air flow everyday and record the measurements to see how well your medicine is working. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to go over the instructions and be sure you understand them.