MODERN DAY ASTHMA
Let us first look at what asthma is. Asthma is a disease that causes your bronchial tubes (inside your lungs) to become inflamed; produce mucus, and the muscles to constrict. This process causes bronchoconstriction as a result, and this leads to shortness of breath, coughing, and/or wheezing. Environmental allergies or other forms of hypersensitivity can cause symptoms.
“Back in the day,” an asthma exacerbation was treated with Epinephrine, Sus-phrine (long acting epinephrine – no longer available), Alupent (bronchodilator in tablet form), Slo-phylline (“old” theophylline), and the “rescue medication” was inhaled Isuprel.
Next was the nebulizer! The first ones were big and would “jump off” the table as you were doing your treatment. It took 15-20 minutes to complete, which was a big inconvenience for some patients requiring it up to 4 times daily. Controller medications and rescue medications could be delivered this way.
As time, progressed, the ER started using a combination of Helium (He) and Oxygen (O2), or Heliox via mask. And, yes, you would sound like a chipmunk afterward.
Still asthma medications were still lacking in being able to control about half of the patients with asthma, well. This is when our modern day inhalers came about! We have single agent inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), dual agent inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) with a long acting beta agonist (LABA), and leukotriene modifiers. These medications have become the mainstay for most asthma patients.
Now, biologics (injections), as we call them, are being used in some severe cases of asthma. This class of medication is growing in popularity and you will probably see more offerings.
The most important message is, if you have asthma, or know someone who does, be aware that with proper treatment, the sky is the limit! At Pentucket Medical, we personalize asthma care to each patient’s needs. To schedule an appointment at our Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Department contact us at one of our convenient locations:
Riverwalk/ Lawrence: 9788-557-8900
Pentucket Medical is a member of Partners Asthma Collaborative.
Kristin Topham Homze, MSN, FNP-BC, AE-C
Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Pentucket Medical Associates