Asthma

July 31, 2015 by Émilie Bédard
Photo asthme
Asthma is the most common lung disease in Canada. It affects almost 2.5 million Canadians and 600,000 Quebecers, and is on the rise in industrialized countries. This chronic respiratory condition is characterized by symptoms associated with bronchial obstruction and hypersensiti-vity, leading to inflammation. This inflammation makes the muscles around the bronchi more sensitive, causing them to contract (bronchoconstriction).

When the bronchi are inflamed and contracted, there is less room for airflow, leading to symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, and mucus secretion.

Causes of asthma

The exact causes of asthma are not yet well defined, but the disease appears to be a consequence of a number of genetic and environmental factors. Various things can trigger asthma such as several irritating factors (smoke, dust, cold air), inflammatory factors (allergens, respiratory infections), and other factors (physical exercise, gastroesophageal reflux). Each person reacts differently to these triggers, so it is important to identify them in order to reduce exposure.

Treating asthma

Patient involvement in treating and understanding asthma is the best way to manage the disease. Treatment is aimed at controlling inflammation and bronchoconstriction. Inhaled corticosteroids like Flovent® are the cornerstone of treating asthma and are used regularly. They help prevent symptoms, keep asthma from worsening, and reduce hospitalization and mortality.

Other types of medication and combinations can be used as an add-on treatment. For more information on the treatment of asthma, consult your physician or pharmacist.

Inhaled bronchodilators act on the bronchial muscles and help them relax. Short-acting bronchodilators like Ventolin® are rescue medications used in the event of an asthma attack or to prevent asthma caused by physical exercise. Use of this type of medication more than three times a week (except for a daily dose before physical effort) is a sign that asthma is poorly controlled.

References :
QUEBEC LUNG ASSOCIATION. Asthma, [http://www.pq.lung.ca/diseases-maladies/asthma-asthme/ ], page consulted November 2, 2014.
ROULEAU R. “Mise à jour du traitement de l’asthme,” Québec Pharmacie, Vol. 52, No. 9, October 2005.