How Chronic Asthma Is Treated
Some people develop asthma, deal with attacks now and then, and then the asthma eventually goes away for whatever reason. This is quite common in kids whose asthma clears up with age. It also happens in some allergy sufferers whose symptoms disappear once they move to a new location. Other times, however, asthma really does become chronic and affect people for many years or for their whole life. In such cases, doctors often prescribe one of the following treatments.
Corticosteroids are medications that reduce inflammation in the body. Doctors often prescribe them orally for severe allergic reactions, but there are inhaled versions that are sometimes prescribed to patients with chronic asthma. You'll inhale a small dose of corticosteroids each day, sometimes twice a day, and it will keep inflammation in your airways at bay. These inhaled corticosteroids can be very effective in the treatment of asthma, but they do come with a risk of certain side effects such as weight gain and upset stomach. If you start experiencing side effects while on corticosteroids for asthma, definitely let your doctor know. They may switch you to one of the other treatments on this list.
Some cases of asthma are related to the over-production of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell associated with your immune system. If your doctor thinks you may have this type of asthma, they may recommend periodic treatments with monoclonal antibodies. These antibodies help block your body's neutrophil response that is leading to inflammation and blocking of your airways. Generally, they are given via an infusion, which you'll receive in your doctor's office or a clinic. You'll only need one every few months since the effects are long-lasting. This treatment tends to come with few side effects, but it is a bit time-consuming.
If you don't respond well to the medications discussed above, your doctor may recommend you undergo a procedure called bronchial thermoplasty. This is a process by which the muscle lining your esophagus is heated up, which causes it to lose tone and decrease in size. This way, if it spasms in an asthma attack your airways won't be blocked. Many people have fewer asthma attacks after this procedure, too. However, there is a healing process that can be painful.
Talk to your doctor about these chronic asthma treatments. If your asthma has been around for a while, it may be time to do something more about it.