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July 16, 2020

Breathing Treatment: Asthma, COPD, and More

What is the treatment for breathing?

We all breathe without giving it much thought but for the people who have respiratory problems like asthma and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, need to use breathing treatments so that they can breathe easily and freely. While getting the treatment for breathing, medications enter the lungs with an inhaler or a nebulizer; however, both of these kinds of devices are made available to people in case it is being referred by the doctor. These kinds of devices have their own benefits and risks linked to them.

Inhaler – An inhaler is a handheld device which stores medication in a pressurized canister and it releases the medication in aerosol form in the mouth of the patients. There are also nasal inhalers available in the market that is used to release medication into your nose.

Nebulizer – A nebulizer uses an air compressor for turning medication into a fine mist which the patients inhale with the help of a face mask. There are some nebulizers that need to be plugged in while some others are portable and usually run on batteries, you can carry them while traveling as well.

There are many respiratory conditions that respond well to both inhalers and nebulizers and the exact condition vary from person to person.

Some of the treatments available for curing asthma

The treatment of Asthma usually has two parts, where the first part deals with giving fast-acting medication for flare-ups while the second kind of treatment involves preventive treatments which in turn can avoid those flare-ups. One of the most preferred medications by the doctors to cure asthma is albuterol which is a short-acting drug providing instant relief to the patients at the time of asthma attack. This medicine can be taken either through an inhaler or through a nebulizer as well.

Nebulizers and asthma

Under this treatment, the patients are supposed to wear a mask for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Till the time the treatment is going on, the patients just need to sit. For small children who are quite active, sometimes it become a problem for the parents to make their child sit for some time. In case your child don’t sit still or is unable to hold the mask on long enough, then it might result in difficulty as he/she is not getting the medication needed for the treatment.

Inhalers and asthma – It takes less than 30 seconds to use an inhaler and they are smaller and easy to carry while going from one place to another. However, according to many studies it has been found that more than 90% of the patients who have asthma use their inhaler in a wrong way which indicates that they are not getting the needed dose of medication which they should take to cure asthma. Sometimes this problem can be solved with spacers, which are long plastic tubes capable to hold the medication after it has been pumped. The medicine will stay in the spacer till the time you not have inhaled it.

Though nebulizers are easy to use, but according to many researches, it has been found that children prefer to use inhalers with spacers as it significantly increases the chances of getting the proper dose. Even for the parents of babies, it is much easier to make their kid use inhaler with a spacer and a mask. Also, Inhaler treatments are not that much expensive when we compare it with nebulizer treatments. Almost a single dosage of albuterol in a nebulizer costs approximately USD 2.00 to USD 2.50.

Other available asthma treatments

Besides using inhalers and nebulizers, people with asthma can use many other kinds of treatment as well for curing asthma. For people who have allergy-related asthma, there are many allergy medications like antihistamines and decongestants available in the market which will prove helpful to them. In case your asthma is uncontrolled, you need to have bronchial thermoplasty, it is a kind of treatment where your doctor will heat the inside of the lungs’ airways with the help of electrode. This way will limit the airway’s ability to tighten.

Also, some types of breathing exercises and natural remedies will offer relief to the patients. Some of the kinds of natural remedies which you can opt for include:

  • black seed oil
  • caffeine
  • choline
  • pycnogenol

Breathing treatments for COPD

COPD is being referred to as a group of inflammatory lung diseases which limit the airflow to the lungs. Two of the main types of COPD include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Bronchodilators and corticosteroids are the most common breathing treatments available to cure COPD. Bronchodilators are used to open up the airways inside the human body while Corticosteroids are useful in reducing inflammation. They both are used together for curing COPD among the patients.

Both these kinds of medication, bronchodilators and corticosteroids can be taken with the help of either an inhaler or a nebulizer. Though there are many studies that proved that nebulizers are not that effective to treat COPD symptoms, but there is no evidence which supports the study. While there are some proofs that show that by using nebulizer treatments during the morning and evening with midday inhaler results in a better treatment option for COPD patients.

Other treatments for COPD include:

Some other types of treatment available for COPD include

  • lung therapies like oxygen therapy
  • pulmonary rehabilitation programs
  • surgery in some severe cases

Breathing treatments for pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung infection which is mainly caused due to bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Though most of the pneumonia cases can be cured with the help of medications, in case the condition becomes uncontrolled, patients need to be hospitalized for quick relief. In case you have been hospitalized with pneumonia then there are chances that you might receive a breathing treatment through a nebulizer.

Why people get confused between asthma and COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a general term used to explain progressive respiratory diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD results in lower airflow over time along with inflammation of the tissues that come in the passage of airway.

While Asthma is a totally different kind of respiratory disease, but many times, people get confused between COPD and asthma. Though they both have similar symptoms but still they differ from each other a lot. Some of the common symptoms of both these diseases include chronic coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. People need to pay detailed attention to the symptoms especially in case they smoke. Early diagnosis of these diseases help in starting the treatment at the earliest, also earlier treatment is useful in preserving lung function in people with COPD.

According to many studies it has been found that the people who have COPD also have asthma and asthma is one of the main risk factors which results in COPD. Moreover, the chances of getting affected by these respiratory diseases increase with the age of the patients. Though Asthma and COPD might look similar, but when we dig the facts we will find a lot of dissimilarity between these conditions.

Treatments for Asthma and COPD

Asthma

Asthma is a long-term medical condition but it can be managed of the patient to take proper and timely treatment for the same. One of the important treatments includes recognizing the factors which result in triggering asthma and taking timely precautions to avoid the problem. Also, it is important that you pay detailed attention to your breathing so that you don’t miss your daily asthma medications and can control your asthma

  • some of the quick-relief medications include short-acting beta-agonists, ipratropium (Atrovent), etc which are advised by the doctors to the patients
  • Also, taking allergy medications like allergy shots (immunotherapy) and omalizumab (Xolair) in case you are allergic to something
  • For long-term asthma control, treatment include inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, etc which help the patients in controlling asthma significantly
  • Also, the patients are given Bronchial thermoplasty which includes heating the inside of the lungs and airways with the help of an electrode. This treatment will shrink the smooth muscle inside the airways and will lower the airway’s ability to tighten which in turn will make it easier for the patients to breathe.

COPD

Similar to asthma, COPD is also a long-term health condition that needs to be taken care of properly. The goal of treatment is to make the symptoms managed so that the patients can lead an active and healthy life. Also, another important task is to prevent the existing condition from worsening and to take medicine regularly without any kind of delay. Patients with COPD are advised to quit smoking and avoid getting exposed to someone who is an active smoker; this is the best possible way to prevent oneself from worsening COPD condition. Some of the ways by which you can quit smoking include nicotine replacement products and medications, along with talking therapies and getting support from your relatives and friends.

Common ways to treat COPD include:

  • People with COPD are advised to take medications like bronchodilators, inhaled steroids, inhalers, oral steroids etc to cure COPD
  • There are different lung therapies which include oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation programs which aimed at educating people about the causes and ways to treat COPD. Also, exercise training, nutritional advice, and counseling are offered to the patients which in turn improves quality of life

Which breathing treatment to choose?

At the time of selecting a breathing treatment, you need to consult your doctor who will look for the best medication plan for you and will come up with the best treatment that matches your condition and personal preferences. It is important that you should know the side effects, maintenance requirements, and how effective each treatment is before choosing one for yourself.

Some of the Side effects of the treatment are

Albuterol can cause some of Side effects including:

  • shakiness
  • nervousness
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • heart palpitations

However, albuterol will result in lesser side effects especially when it is taken through an inhaler. Nebulizers are mostly used in an emergency setting because they deliver an instant relief and also increase some side effects like anxiety and tremor among the patients. You are advised to consult your doctor before beginning with any kind of breathing treatment and they will also offer some of the ways through which the side effects of these medicines get reduced greatly.

Maintenance requirements

In order to be assured that nebulizers and inhalers are working properly, you need to regularly clean them. Nebulizer and inhaler have different cleaning ways, and even their cleaning instructions and storage requirements differ from each other. Some of the inhalers and nebulizers are needed to be stored at a certain temperature to make them function properly. Also, it is important that you check the expiration date on nebulizers and inhalers before using them after some time. In most cases, these treatments last for about one year before the need of replacing them arise.

Effectiveness

Both Nebulizers and inhalers are effective in curing asthma. Both are effective in case you are using them properly; however, most people don’t know how to use them correctly, which in turn makes them less effective and patients don’t feel an improvement in their asthma condition. Make sure before picking up the treatment, you have visited your doctor who will demonstrate the right way to use a nebulizer or inhaler before you take it to your home.

Wrap-up

Both Nebulizers and inhalers considered effective breathing treatments, in case you are using them rightly. Using these breathing treatments incorrectly will not deliver the expected result and neither will you witness an improvement in your overall health. Also, using them wrongly will make them less effective while treating respiratory problems. Consult your doctor and sit with them in finding the best breathing treatment that fits best with your both your medical needs and lifestyle and you will also be able to learn the right way of using these treatments.

People who have both asthma and COPD can lower the symptoms and prevent complications by following their prescribed treatment plans and by consulting their doctor regularly who is better to judge their exact condition than someone else.

References

  1. https://www.bibliomed.org/mnsfulltext/16/16-1336502746.pdf?1588933489
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025712517300627
  3. https://journals.lww.com/co-allergy/Abstract/2009/10000/Asthma_and_chronic_obstructive_pulmonary_disease.5.aspx

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