Preventing Asthma Airway Damage and Lung Damage

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Is your medications we have available,” says allergist Jonathan A. Bernstein, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

There may not be a Arthritis causes swelling,” he tells WebMD. “If you don’t treat it, that swelling can permanently deform the joints. Asthma works the same way.”

Untreated asthma can permanently change the shape of the airways. The tissue of the bronchial tubes becomes thickened and scarred. The muscles are permanently enlarged. And a person may wind up with reduced lung function that can never be healed.

Asthma: A Surprisingly Silent Disease

Asthma is known for its obvious and noisy symptoms: wheezing, gasping, and asthma symptoms really may not reflect the severity of the underlying disease,” he says. Even if you feel fine, your asthma may still be damaging your airways — and you may be closer to a serious attack than you realize.

Even if you do have symptoms, you may not have an accurate impression of how much they affect you.

“There’s no question that people with asthma tend to think they have much better control over their condition than they actually do,” Edelman tells WebMD.

In a 2005 poll of over 4,500 adults with asthma in the U.S. sponsored by the Asthma and asthma attack.

Long-term control medicines either calm inflammation or help prevent the airways from closing. They are used daily – not just when you have an asthma attack — because they work slowly. They prevent rather than treat symptoms, so they’re not much help once you are already having an attack.

Inhaled long-term control medicines are usually preferred, but some long-term medicines are also available as pills.

The other important treatment hinges on your own behavior: You need to stay away from the allergens or irritants that trigger your asthma.

By following this treatment approach, the majority of people with asthma can control their symptoms. They can live normal, healthy lives.

Untreated Asthma Leads to Avoidable Suffering

If asthma is so treatable, why do 5,000 people in the U.S. die from it every year? Why are 70,000 people hospitalized for asthma every year?

The simple answer is that while good asthma treatments are available, many people aren’t using them. Not taking your medicine can have serious consequences. “We think that poor or irregular asthma treatment puts people at greater risk of more serious or irreversible damage,” says Windom.

Part of the fault lies with doctors, Windom tells WebMD. He says that many doctors don’t monitor their asthma patients well enough. Too often, he says, they treat the condition based only on the patient’s impression of their health, which is often incorrect. He believes that doctors should pay more attention to objective analyses, like breathing tests with lung disease,” says Craig.

So you need to take charge of your health care and fight for the best treatment you can get. Don’t settle for a life restricted by symptoms. Don’t settle for treatment that isn’t helping.

“Demand that you get aggressive treatment of your asthma,” says Edelman. “There is no reason for you to be suffering. You have the right to feel well.”