Asthma is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the airways, causing difficulty in breathing, excessive production of mucus, chest tightness and wheezes, in this article, we will try to know more about the disease and explore new treatments for asthma.
What Happens With Asthma? Asthma happens as a result of the inflammation of the airways due to exposure to an allergen (dust, pollen, and animal dander), chemical or stress. Once these substances are inhaled, the airways react to them and become inflammed. When the airways are inflammed, air cannot easily pass through the airway into the lungs; this makes breathing difficult and labored a hallmark sign of asthma. Not only that, exposure to the said substances also causes the airways to produce excessive mucus, this mucus then obstructs the airway, again making breathing difficult.
Conventional Treatment for Asthma
Before we try to find out the new treatments for asthma, let us first have a brief overview of its conventional treatment. Treatment for asthma primarily involves the use of therapeutic drugs to alleviate the symptom and measures to decrease exposure to the allergen. The latter would be quite difficult to pursue, as allergens are present everywhere and eradicating them from the environment would be quite impossible. And so management for asthma also employs the use of drugs such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids to manage the symptoms. Bronchodilators such as albuterol and salmeterol widens or dilates the diameter of the inflammed airway, corticosteroids on the other hand act on the inflammation by decreasing it. Since asthma is a chronic disease the combination of these two drugs are essential, bronchodilators relieve constriction of the airway in cases of asthma attacks and corticosteroids maintain a patent airway by controlling the inflammation, use of these drugs (especially long term use) can bring about certain side effects. Which brings us to explore the new treatments for asthma.
New Treatments for Asthma
Gradual desensitization – Conventional treatment for asthma dictates the person to avoid exposure to allergens, gradual desensitization suggests the opposite. In this treatment modality, the person is gradually exposed to the allergen. By gradually exposing the person to the allergen, the body is allowed to adjust, cope and build the necessary mechanisms to withstand the allergen.
Antileukotriene treatment – This type of treatment is well suited for asthmatic children, aside from corticosteroid treatment, antileukotriene treatment is seen as an effective treatment of asthma for children in the future, although studies are still ongoing about the treatment, the results are seen to be promising. With this type of treatment, children with asthma may be given the possibility to live the adult life asthma free.
Heliox Treatment – A combination of Helium and Oxygen treatment, since asthmatic patients experience difficulty of breathing, a supply of oxygen is given; however combining this with Helium makes the air less dense thereby decreasing airway resistance. This means oxygen flows more easily and freely into the airway. Heliox treatment is seen to decrease labored breathing, delay muscle fatigue during attacks, and also decreases pulsus paradoxus (seen in patients with acute severe attacks).
New treatments for asthma prove to have promising results, and in the future may provide the cure for the world’s most common chronic inflammatory disease.