Asthma Diagnosis and Treatment
Family, environmental and occupational background is gathered to establish triggering factors that lead to the asthma attack. It is also essential for your health professional to note the various events that lead to the asthma attack as well as main signs and symptoms when the asthma attack was treated, managed and prevented.
After a preliminary history and diagnosis is established, the health professional will then use a stethoscope to listen to your lungs for signs such as wheezing and crackles.
Medical exams and tests will include chest x-rays, arterial blood gas, eosinophil count, lung function tests and peak flow measurements. X-rays will show a constriction in the bronchi and airway passages as well as thick mucous secretions. In acute episodes, sputum and blood tests may present elevated levels of eosinophils in the blood.
Serum levels of immunoglobulin E may also be elevated if an allergic response is present. Arterial blood gas analysis will show an increased level of carbon dioxide in the blood and poor oxygen per-fusion while lung function and peak flow measurements will show poor lung expansion and ventilation.
Treatment and Medications
The treatment plan for asthma will normally revolve around these 3 important factors:
(1) identifying and monitoring signs and symptoms for asthma,
(2) identifying and avoiding the asthma triggers, and
(3) taking in medications for asthma.
It is also important to develop an emergency action plan.
Prevention is a key to the first and second protocols. It is important for you to recognize the causative factor to your asthma. Several causative factors may include allergic reactions to particulates and dust, overwhelming odors and toxic chemicals or fumes, cigarette smoke and automotive exhaust, pet fur and dander, spores and pollen, the ingestion and exposure to certain food, extremely cold weather and physical overexertion. Emotional and physical stressors, anxiety, ongoing respiratory tract infection and some medications may also trigger an asthma attack.
Taking in Medications
Basically, there are two kinds of medications to treat asthma. These are (1) quick relief or emergency medications and (2) long-term medications.
Quick relief, “emergency” or “short-term” medications are used to instantly relieve the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack and may be used at a one-time-only basis. These include: (1) short-acting bronchodilators and inhalers and (2) corticosteroids like methylprednisone and prednisone.
Bronchodilators, as their name suggests, open up the already-narrowed airway passages. Meanwhile, corticosteroids prevent the exacerbation of the allergic reaction by inhibiting autoimmune function.
Long-term medications are actually maintenance drugs taken in on a regular basis to prevent the occurrence of asthma’s signs and symptoms. These include:
(1) long-acting corticosteroids,
(2) long-acting bronchodilators,
(3) aminophylline or theophylline,
(4) cromolyn sodium or nedocromil sodium and
(5) leukotriene inhibitors.
Theophylline and aminophylline are smooth muscle relaxants that inhibit bronchospasms. Meanwhile, cromolyn sodium and nedocromil sodium inhibit the inflammation of the lung passages. Leukotriene inhibitors reduce the action of leukotrienes or antibodies responsible for causing inflammation.
The above are only guidelines,for more details consult your medical professional.