woman using asthma inhaler
Respiratory Conditions

Asthma: Triggers and Treatments

The bad news about asthma is that there’s no cure for it, and in most cases we don’t even know what causes it.

The good news: There are ways you can reduce the number and severity of your attacks. You have to tailor your anti-asthma action plan to your own case, though, because not everyone can take the same medicine and because everyone’s triggers aren’t the same. Your health care providers, including an allergist and a pulmonologist, can help with that. Consider these triggers and figure out which ones are the worst for you and how you can avoid or minimize them:

  • Dust mites
  • Air pollution
  • Cockroaches
  • Pet dander
  • Plant pollen
  • Mold
  • Infections
  • Exercise
  • Strong scents (such as perfumes)
  • Tobacco smoke

Because symptoms can vary from person to person, not every medicine is right for every patient.

If you don’t treat your asthma, you can suffer long-term lung damage and attacks that may require hospitalization or even be life-threatening. Work with your health care provider to discuss the proper treatment.

woman sneezing, allergic to dog

Because asthma symptoms can vary from person to person, not every medicine is right for every patient. But there are a few basic rules to follow: don’t start taking any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines without first telling your health-care provider. And don’t stop taking any medicines your doctor has prescribed.

There are two types of asthma medicines: quick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief or rescue medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. One example is albuterol, which opens up the bronchial tubes in the lungs.

Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, although they won’t help you during an asthma attack. They include inhaled corticosteroids that, with regular treatment, help improve lung function and prevent symptoms and flare-ups, reducing the need for rescue medications.

Recently, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new version of Primatene Mist, an OTC rescue medication to treat symptoms of mild, intermittent asthma. Primatene Mist, the only FDA-approved non-prescription drug for asthma, is approved for use only in people age 12 and older; it’s not known whether it’s safe for kids younger than that.

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