Asthma is a very common long-term condition that is caused by inflammation of the airways. It causes coughing, breathlessness and wheezing and affects 5.4 million people in the UK. The severity of asthma can vary enormously from person to person and it can be life threatening, but for many people, their asthma can be well controlled much of the time by prescribed medication.
If you have well-controlled asthma, then the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service can act as a safe and convenient alternative source of your prescribed medications. Our UK registered GP will review your case and can prescribe a repeat prescription if appropriate.
What are the causes of Asthma?
The underlying cause of asthma is inflammation of the airways. The small tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs become sensitive to “trigger” factors that cause the airways to narrow and become full of sticky mucus or phlegm. This makes breathing more difficult, with wheezing and coughing and a feeling of tightness in the chest.
An asthma attack happens when a trigger factor causes a sudden onset of these symptoms. Such an asthma attack can be very dangerous. Some people have long-term asthma that means long-term narrowing of the airways is present.
The trigger factors vary from person to person and in many cases cannot be avoided as they are a part of everyday life. Many people with asthma have more than one trigger. Common trigger factors are house dust mites, animal fur, pollen, smoke, exercise, cold air and infections.
The actual cause of the increase in sensitivity of the airways is not totally understood. It is known to run in families and so is at least in part to do with your genetic makeup.
If you smoke, then you should consider stopping. Smoking damages the lungs and can make asthma worse. Click here for more information about how to stop smoking and here for more information from the NHS Choices website.
What treatments are available for Asthma?
Asthma cannot be cured, so the main aims of treatment are to prevent symptoms and future asthma attacks, and to relieve the symptoms of asthma should they occur. The medicines that are used in asthma are usually divided into “preventers” and “relievers”.
In most cases, the medicines are inhaled so they take effect directly in the lungs. It is very important that the inhaler is correctly used to ensure the medicine does make it into the lungs. Even experienced users of inhalers should review their “inhaler technique” on a regular basis as bad habits are easy to pick up and important steps easy to forget. Good inhaler technique is well summarised by Asthma UK on their website.
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