Asthma FAQ’s

Asthma Explained

What is asthma?

As we breathe, air moves in and out of the lungs through branching airways. People with asthma have sensitive airways, which become narrowed as a result of many causes. This makes it difficult for them to breathe.

The three main factors that cause this narrowing of the airways are:
The inner lining of the airways becomes red and swollen, the muscle around the airways tighten and extra mucus may be produced.

What triggers an asthma attack?

House dust, insecticides, cigarette and other smoke, animals with fur, emotional upsets, plant pollen, changes in weather, colds and physical strain.

These are just a few of the “triggers” that can cause asthma attacks. Different people are sensitive to different triggers. If you have asthma, it is important for you to identify your asthma triggers and to avoid them as far as possible.

What are the main symptoms of asthma?

Coughing, wheezing – a whistling sound when you breathe, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath. The symptoms vary from person to person and from time to time within the same person. Some people have all the symptoms, while others may have only a cough or wheezing. If these symptoms occur especially at night, or are associated with exercise, suspect asthma.

Can asthma be cured?

Asthma cannot be cured but it can be controlled. Getting your asthma under control means that you are able to lead a normal life without having any symptoms of asthma.

How can you control asthma?

By avoiding triggers (pollen, smoking, dust etc), visiting your doctor regularly, taking your asthma medicines (as directed) without fail, leading an active life and keeping a close watch on your asthma symptoms.

Is asthma contagious?

No, asthma cannot be passed on to others by someone who has it.

If I have asthma will my children also get it?

The tendency to get asthma does run in families. However, this does not mean that if you have asthma, your children will necessarily get it.

At what age does asthma start?

There is no specific age at which asthma starts. It can begin during childhood, adolescence or even later.

Asthma Medication

What should I expect from my asthma treatment?

With regular, long-term treatment, you can achieve the following goals:

  • A complete absence of asthma symptoms, or only minor symptoms during the day.
  • Peaceful sleep at night, without any symptoms.
  • No need to miss work, studies or other activities due to asthma.
  • No emergency visits or stays in the hospital.
  • Being able to participate fully in physical activities.
  • Extremely few, if any, side effects from your asthma medicines.

All in all, a healthier and more fulfilling life!

What is quick-relief and preventive medication?

To keep your asthma under control, it is important to understand the types of treatment.

“Quick-relief” medication includes drugs which give instant relief, but act only for a short period of time (4-6 hours maximum). Cipla Medpro’s reliever medication is called Asthavent. Asthavent delivers Salbutamol directly to the disease site, it provides rapid symptomatic relief within minutes and therefore ensures proven efficacy in controlling bronchospasm (tight airways). Asthavent also provides excellent prophylaxis for exercise induced bronchospasm (EIB).This medication should not be taken on a regular daily basis. If “reliever” medication is required more than 3 times per week, “preventive” medication should be increased to improve control of asthma.

“Preventive” medication does not give immediate relief. However, when used over prolonged periods of time, it controls asthma better and prevents further attacks. The aim of treating asthma is to use adequate ‘preventive’ medication so that minimum or no usage of ‘quick-relief’ medication is required.

In how many ways can asthma medicines be taken?

Asthma medicines can be taken in any of the following ways.Your healthcare proffesional should decide which will work best for you.

  • Nebulisers
  • Inhalers
  • Tablets
  • Syrups
  • Injections

Are inhalers an effective way of taking my asthma medicine?

Yes. Inhalers give you quick relief while using the minimum amount of medicine. This is because the medicine is delivered straight to your lungs, where it acts at once. Inhalers also reduce the chance of side effects due to the small dosage and the minimal absorption into the rest of the system.

Inhalation Therapy - Can I become addicted to using inhalers?

No. Using your inhaler regularly does not make you dependent on it. Never cut down on the dose prescribed by your doctor. If used in the prescribed way you cannot become addicted.

Should I continue taking my medicine even after the attacks stop?

Yes, without fail. You should continue to take your medicines as directed by your doctor. Just as some people need spectacles to see clearly, asthmatics need continuous treatment to breathe properly.

If you stop taking your medicines, you can have another attack which may be more serious. This will take longer to recover from and will need more treatment.

Is inhaled medicine safe to use?

Inhaled medicine is considered the best way to treat asthma. Long-term use has shown it to be safe, as long as it is taken in the correct dose and frequency prescribed by your doctor.

Can asthma medicine be used during pregnancy and breast-feeding?

It is extremely important to control asthma during pregnancy as uncontrolled asthma is a risk to the health of both the mother and the unborn child. Taking asthma medicines by the inhaled route during pregnancy and while breast-feeding does not pose a problem. However, you must consult your doctor.

What is a spacer?

It is extremely important to control asthma during pregnancy as uncontrolled asthma is a risk to the health of both the mother and the unborn child. Taking asthma medicines by the inhaled route during pregnancy and while breast-feeding does not pose a problem. However, you must consult your doctor.

What is a nebuliser?

A nebuliser works by turning the medicine into a fine mist, which is inhaled through a mask or mouthpiece. Nebulisers are used for giving higher doses of medication at times when breathing becomes extremely difficult.

Children with asthma

How can I help my child fight asthma?

As the parent of an asthmatic child, you will have to shoulder a major responsibility. Your child may get frustrated or depressed. Some children even feel guilty, thinking of themselves as a ‘burden’ on the family. Only you can help them overcome these feelings and lead a normal life.

Always encourage your child to take part in normal, day-to-day activities. In this way, you can help overcome any feeling of inferiority he or she might have. To boost your child’s self-confidence, make them do the things they enjoy most. This will also instill a sense of accomplishment in your child’s mind. Encourage your child to be as independent as possible. As your child gets older, teach them about asthma. Make sure they know what to do in case of an attack, like taking the right medicines, etc.

Once your child grows up, they should be made totally responsible for taking their medicines regularly, and they should know who to call in case of an emergency.

Will my child outgrow asthma?

Very often, children outgrow their asthma as they approach their teens or even earlier. In others, attacks could persist, or stop for a few years and then start again.

Will my other children also contract asthma?

Asthma is not contagious. Unlike catching a cold, it cannot be passed on to others by someone who has it. The tendency to contract asthma runs in families. This however, does not mean that if one of your children has asthma, all will get it.

What is the relation between emotional stress and asthma?

Almost every asthmatic child is influenced by emotional strain, which can lead to an attack. Excitement, anger and frustration can all trigger an attack, and family problems may make the condition worse. You should never feel guilty or think that you are responsible for your child’s ailment. A positive and confident attitude can go a long way in helping your child.

Can my child exercise?

Exercise is good for everyone. It is important that children with asthma participate in an exercise program, which increases physical tolerance without aggravating asthma. If exercise exertion interferes with their breathing, inform your doctor. He can prescribe medicines, which allow your child to exercise whilst preventing asthma. Swimming is an excellent exercise, and breathing exercises may also be helpful.

Should my child go on a special diet?

There is no definite answer to this question, because very little is known about the influence of diet on asthma. If you notice that your child’s asthma gets worse after eating a certain type of food, avoid it completely. Breast-feeding helps to build up your baby’s immunity and builds resistance to disease.

What should I do when my child starts school?

It is important not to hide your child’s asthma from the teacher. Discuss the symptoms with the teacher and ensure that your child always carries the prescribed medication to school.

Is it safe for my child to go on school trips?

Yes, your child can travel as long as the asthma is under control and he or she carries their medicines along, including any medicine that should be used for severe attacks. It is very important to remind the teacher accompanying the child about his / her asthmatic condition.

Allergic Rhinitis

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

Allergic Rhinitis is an allergic condition which affects the nose and its communicating mucous membranes (sinuses, ears, eyes). Allergic rhinitis is often subdivided into seasonal and perennial (all-year-round).

What are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis?

The dominant complaints early on are itching (affecting nose, soft palate and ears), sneezing (often early mornings and evenings) and rhinorrhoea (runny nose or postnasal drip). Nasal congestion usually presents later which can lead to a variety of other problems, including headaches, recurrent sinusitis, disturbed sleep patterns with tiredness and irritability, and mouth breathing. The eyes may also be itchy and watery.

If not taken seriously and treated properly, what are potential complications?

It has often been said that allergic rhinitis is a minor problem, unless you suffer from it yourself! It’s not life threatening. It doesn’t put you in a wheelchair. The misery and discomfort of a blocked nose, the fact that it’s hard to concentrate when your nose is running and your eyes are watering, the disturbed sleep and the disrupted social life is often overlooked.

People are also unaware of the complications that can arise if allergic rhinitis is not treated effectively – children who develop recurrent middle-ear infections leading to “glue ears” and hearing loss; dental malocclusion and long-face syndrome from chronic mouth breathing; and obstructive sleep disorder which produces drowsiness resulting in poor attention and thus poor performance at school. Asthma patients tend to have more acute attacks and adults develop recurrent sinusitis and nasal polyps.

Chronic or recurrent upper respiratory tract symptoms result in frequent visits to the doctor with frequent prescriptions which have important cost implications. Remember also the physical and emotional costs of a runny nose, blocked sinuses, disturbed sleep and cancelled social arrangements.

What is effective allergic rhinitis management?

The introduction of intranasal corticosteroids in the 1970’s made a major contribution to the successful treatment of allergic rhinitis. These preparations are given locally in the nose without significant risk of systemic adverse effects. The aqueous suspensions delivered from mechanical pump sprays seem to give better intranasal distribution. The smaller the volume of the spray, the smaller the loss of fluid from the nostril or down the back of the throat.

Intranasal steroids are effective in reducing ALL nasal symptoms (especially nasal blockage, but also itching, sneezing and rhinorrhoea). For the hayfever sufferer it is best to start treatment a few weeks before the season begins. Once symptoms are controlled, the daily dosage may be reduced.

Although oral antihistamines and antihistamine nasal sprays are effective for acute relief of nasal itching, sneezing, and watery rhinorrhoea (runny nose), they have little effect on nasal blockage, and no effect on the underlying problem – inflammation. Topical decongestants are only indicated as short-term therapy to reduce nasal congestion. Prolonged use is potentially harmful and often leads to rebound congestion (rhinitis medicamentosa). Steroid nasal sprays should therefore be introduced.

The over reliance on antihistamines and decongestants can lead to uncontrolled disease, resulting in potential complications (see above) and possible surgery. This, more than anything else, adds to the devastating impact (financial and functional) of allergic rhinitis on patients, as well as their health-related quality of life.

What is Allergic Asthma?

Allergic Asthma is characterised by recurrent episodes of coughing or wheezing that respond to adequate reliever therapy and is associated with allergic rhinitis (Hayfever) and eczema.

Many of the latest reviews indicate a link between rhinitis and asthma. “Rhinitis with partial or complete upper airways obstruction may contribute significantly to asthma symptoms. Optimal management of allergic rhinitis improves not only the rhinitis but also the co-existing asthma.”
(Current Allergy and Immunology Mar. 2000 Vol 13 No 1:12-15)

Budeflam Aquanase can therefore be used in conjunction with Budeflam MDI (Preventer) and Asthavent MDI (Reliever) to treat the total airway at an affordable price.