Inflammation of the airways in asthmatic patients, if chronic, may produce both physical and functional changes in the lungs, including bronchospasm
, the sudden constriction of the muscles in the walls of the bronchioles. As a result, the lungs become impaired as well as permanently sensitive to stimuli.
The guidelines for treating asthma involve treating the inflammatory conditions in order to control symptoms, as well as preventing relapse by avoiding triggers and stimuli.
Asthma medications include both inhalants and oral medications, which come in two distinct categories:
- Medications to suppress or control bronchial inflammation and medications such as inhaled corticosteroids
- Medications to relieve symptoms, known as beta agonists, which work by opening the airways. They reduce symptoms of coughing, gasping for air, and difficulty breathing. These are taken as symptoms flare up but do not help reduce airway inflammation
As asthma symptoms constantly fluctuate, the doctor may keep adjusting the prescriptions to treat symptoms as they arise. This approach is used to get the best results in managing asthma attacks and help avoid the onset of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)