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Patient Education and Support
The James P. Mara Center for Lung Disease
Critical Care Medicine
More specific components of asthma patient education at the division include:
The division strives to help and educate patients in asthma management, especially for newly diagnosed adults. We help new patients make the transition to management and self-care through education and support.
Call (212) 523-5471 for more information.
What is adult asthma?
Today, asthma can be controlled. Millions of people have asthma. It is not contagious; you cannot catch it from someone who has it. You must learn to control it with proper treatment and medication and avoid the things that trigger asthma attacks.
Normal Breathing: Normally when you breathe in, air goes in through your nose and mouth, into your windpipe, through airway tubes called bronchial tubes and into the air sacs. When you breathe out the stale air goes out the same way.
Breathing is difficult because asthma causes the airway tubes to be narrow from:
In recent years, there have been new approaches that have greatly improved the care of people with asthma. Instead of thinking of asthma as something that happens only when an "asthma attack" occurs, we now know that asthma may be a chronic condition and that there may always be some inflammation in the airways of people with chronic asthma. The inflammation causes the airways to be hyper-irritated and they respond by producing more mucus and going into spasm.
Spasm means that the muscles around the airway tubes tighten and make it harder for air to move in and out. This inflammation needs to be treated in addition to the acute attacks.
Anyone with chronic asthma has hyper-irritated, "twitchy" or very sensitive airway tubes which react very easily to many irritants, or "triggers." These "triggers" include:
There are others as well. When you come in contact with one of these "triggers" it causes your airway tubes to become narrower and also to produce more mucus. This narrowing and extra mucus makes it difficult for air to get in and out.
An acute attack is caused by contact with a "trigger" such as:
Chronic asthma has three parts:
Signs of Asthma:
About colds and respiratory infections
Use pre-medication or warm-up exercises especially in cold weather when an asthma attack is more likely to develop. You should work out a plan to get enough exercise without triggering asthma attacks. This can be done by using the right medication before exercising and doing warm up exercises beforehand.
Swimming is a good sport but even more vigorous ones are possible for you.
Asthma medications (adults)
One type of medicine is called anti-inflammatory medicine. It is often prescribed as the main medicine to help prevent asthma attacks. When taken every day, it controls the inflammation in the airways and decreases swelling and mucus production. This reduces the sensitivity of the airways and leads to fewer or less severe asthma episodes.
Anti-inflammatory medicines are called "controller" medicine and have to be taken every day to control or prevent your asthma attacks -- you should not stop taking it when you feel better. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking it.
Another type of medicine, called a bronchodilator, has a different purpose. It is used to stop the asthma attack once it has started. At the first sign of an asthma attack, a bronchodilator is used to relax and open the airways, so that more air can flow through and you can breathe easier. These are called "rescue" medications. They are also helpful before exercise to prevent shortness of breath.
Be sure you understand:
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