How to Identify and Manage Bronchial Asthma Faster?
This is not easy to diagnose. The diagnosis is usually by exclusion. The possibility of common respiratory infections is excluded and signs of asthma are carefully observed.
If the child has wheezing (whistling sound while breathing) during episodes of cough and cold, or if he gets recurrent episodes of prolonged cough not relieved by common cough medications, he can be considered to be asthmatic.
Such kids respond quickly to bronchodilators.
What Is Bronchial Asthma?
When the smaller airways of our lungs contract or get into spasm in response to some external trigger, it is called bronchial asthma.
This is a hyper-reactive response to the inner airway tubules. The supply of oxygen is considerably reduced. The patient needs to be given a bronchodilator at the earliest to restore the oxygen supply.
Common Triggers of Asthma
Viral infections, cold winds, pollen, dust mites, pets, vehicular pollution.
The list is long. An individual may be allergic to a particular trigger factor.
Standard Treatment Protocol
The inside lining of the smaller airways are inflamed due to the trigger factor. This produces redness and swelling there. An inflammatory exudate is also produced which may give cough.
Treatment aims at opening the smaller airways and reducing the inflammation. A bronchodilator along with an inhalational steroid comprises the first line of treatment.
Does This Steroid Produce Side Effects?
Steroids are feared to produce side effects. If given orally or by injection, they do give side effects. So, such a treatment is not preferred for a long term.
However, when administered slowly by inhalation, the medicine goes mainly to the airways to produce its action. Only a very small component is absorbed by the blood.
Clinically, inhalational steroid has been seen to give no significant side effect even when used for a long duration.
Can Steroid Be Given Prophylactically to Prevent the Occurrence of Asthma?
If you are expecting an episode of asthma, say during a changing season, it is better to start giving a steroid, like Pulmicort, on a daily basis. This will not prevent the asthma attack, however, would considerably reduce the severity of the illness.
Steroid Acts Best When Given Early
It is always better to give the steroid as early as possible if you are anticipating an asthma attack.
Once the inflammation has set in, it becomes difficult of the medicine to take control of the situation.
When to Give Bronchodilator?
Start the bronchodilator, like salbutamol, as soon as you hear the first wheeze, or feel the chest tightness in the patient.
Continue giving it for 3 to 4 days after the patient is free from symptoms.
Sometimes, the bronchodilator may be given in the preventive management of asthma along with the steroid to aid in steroid absorption.
Too much of these bronchodilators may cause restlessness.
Role of Antibiotics
Most asthma patients do not require antibiotics. Do not give antibiotics in every episode of this illness.
They are given only when the trigger is a bacterial infection and the patient has fever, productive cough and other signs of infection.