Asthma is an inflammatory disorder of the airways, characterized by periodic attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. The inflammation of the airways causes airflow into and out of the lungs to be restricted. These symptoms can be triggered by Exposure to tobacco or wood smoke, Breathing polluted air, Inhaling other respiratory irritants such as perfumes or cleaning products, Exposure to airway irritants at the workplace, Breathing in allergy-causing substances (inhaled allergens) such as molds, dust, dust mites, pollen or animal dander, Emotional excitement or stress, Food or drug allergies, Respiratory infections such as a cold, flu, sinusitis, or bronchitis, Exposure to cold, dry weather and Physical exertion or exercise.
With proper self management and medical treatment, symptoms can be decreased and most patients can lead normal lives although there is no cure for asthma. Treatment involves the use of rescue and control medications. Rescue medications are taken after an asthma attack has already begun. Short-acting beta-agonists are the most commonly used rescue medications. Inhaled short-acting beta-agonists work rapidly, within minutes, to open the breathing passages, and the effects usually last 4 hours.
Albuterol is the most frequently used short-acting beta-agonist medication. Anticholinergics are another class of drugs useful as rescue medications during asthma attacks. Inhaled anticholinergic drugs open the breathing passages, similar to the action of the beta-agonists. Ipratropium bromide is the inhaled anticholinergic drug currently used as a rescue medicine. Controller medicines help minimize the inflammation that causes an acute asthma attack. Long-acting beta-agonists are drugs chemically related to adrenaline, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Inhaled long-acting beta-agonists work to keep breathing passages open for 12 hours or longer. They relax the muscles of the breathing passages, dilating the passages and decreasing the resistance to exhaled airflow, making it easier to breathe. Salmeterol and formoterol are long-acting beta-agonists.
Inhaled corticosteroids are the main class of medications in this group that act locally by concentrating their effects directly within the breathing passages. Beclomethasone and triamcinolone are examples of inhaled corticosteroids. Leukotriene inhibitors are another group of drugs that work by blocking the chemicals that produce inflammatory response and thus reduce inflammation. Zileuton, zafirlukast and montelukast…