Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma. But asthma is treatable so you can live a relatively normal life if your asthma stays controlled. To control your asthma, talk with your doctor about the right type of treatment for you. There are different types of treatments depending on the type of asthma you have.
We created an overview of the types of asthma and treatments that can help you get your symptoms under control.
Types of Asthma
About 19 million adults and five million children suffer from asthma in the United States. Asthma inflames the airways in your lungs, which makes it harder to breathe. Since the airways are inflamed, they get smaller, and air has a hard time flowing through the bronchioles of your lungs. The goal is to keep inflammation down so you can breathe easier and keep your symptoms under control.
Nonallergic asthma is more common in females than males and tends to appear in adulthood. This type of asthma develops from both environmental and genetic factors.
Common triggers for nonallergic asthma include:
- Respiratory infections
- Air irritants
The most common symptoms of nonallergic asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan so your symptoms are better managed if they flare-up.
Allergic asthma affects about 25 million people in the United States. It is the most common type of asthma. If you have allergic asthma, chances are you have other conditions such as food allergies, allergic rhinitis, or eczema.
Common triggers of allergic asthma include:
- Fragranced products
- Irritants in the air
- Dust mites
- Certain foods, such as eggs, milk, or nuts
- Mold spores
- Pet dander
The biggest thing with allergic asthma is to identify your triggers. Once your triggers are identified, it is easier to get your symptoms under control. Some other things to try include vacuuming and dusting regularly, avoid going outside when the pollen levels are high, and staying away from foods that may aggravate your symptoms.
Seasonal asthma flares up at different times during the year. Some people experience more symptoms in the spring, where others experience flare-ups during cold weather. Take note when your symptoms are worse throughout the year so you are better prepared when you talk with your doctor on how to manage your symptoms.
Some ways to reduce your seasonal asthma symptoms include:
- Keep medication close by
- Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf in cold weather
- Keep your doors and windows closed
- Check the air quality before leaving your house
Exercise Induced Asthma
Exercise induced asthma flares up during exercise or other vigorous activity. A flare-up can happen anywhere between five to 20 minutes during the activity. Exercise induced asthma is more than just shortness of breath, symptoms also include wheezing, coughing, and chest pain. The symptoms can be mild to severe, so it is important to have your medication close by.
Factors that worsen symptoms include:
- Warm, humid air
- Cold, dry air
- Polluted air
- Chlorinated pools
There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of flare-ups during exercise. Don’t exercise if you have a viral infection, such as the cold or flu. Warmup and cool down to help your airways adjust to the exercise. If it is cold outside, wear a scarf over your mouth and nose to warm up the air before it gets into your airways.
Types of Medicine to Control Asthma
When you take medications for asthma, you have a short-term medication and a long-term medication. The short-term is for quick relief in the event of an asthma attack, where the long-term is to keep your asthma under control over time.
Mesh nebulizers create a fine mist of medication that is inhaled and goes straight to your lungs. Portable mesh nebulizers turn off when your treatment is complete so there is no guesswork to figure out when your treatment is done. They are small and are easily taken to school, work, or in your bag while you travel.
Inhalers are fast acting because you inhale the medication directly into your lungs. The medication is either a powder or a mist and helps control your symptoms. Some medication includes corticosteroids to reduce inflammation where other medication includes bronchodilators to quickly open your airways.
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication that is a combination of both bronchodilators and corticosteroids.
Oral medication helps reduce inflammation and open your airways. They work in a similar way to inhalers and nebulizers but are not as fast acting. Talk to your doctor to figure out what regimen works best for you.
Natural Remedies to Help Control Asthma
If you want to consider natural remedies along with your doctor’s recommendations, there are a few things to try.
Caffeine is related to the drug theophylline, which is used to treat asthma because it helps relax the muscles in your airways. A report in 2010 suggested that drinking coffee mildly improved airway function for four hours.
Also called nigella sativa, this spice is in the cumin family and is used in the Ayurvedic tradition. The seed can be taken as a powder, pill, or as an essential oil. A 2017 study showed that black seed may improve lung function and help relieve asthma symptoms.
Vitamin D may lower your risk of going to the hospital if you have an asthma attack. The risk may be reduced by up to 50 percent. Other benefits of vitamin D include teeth, muscle, and bone health.
Keep Your Asthma Under Control
A portable mesh nebulizer may help keep your asthma under control and relieve symptoms of an asthma attack. Talk to your doctor about what treatment plan is right for you.