There is no cure for asthma. Therefore, asthma treatments involve minimizing exposure to triggers and managing symptoms through a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and mode of medication delivery. Identifying and reducing exposure to asthma triggers is the most important step in reducing asthma symptoms. However, complete avoidance of triggers is unlikely, therefore other treatment options are needed.
Asthma drugs fall into two categories. Long-term control drugs are taken daily to prevent symptoms. Quick-relief medications are used to provide rapid relief when symptoms flare up.
An asthma inhaler is a small, handheld device that holds a canister of asthma medication. The asthma inhaler is usually pumped to release a spray mist that is breathed into the lungs. There are different types of asthma inhalers for adults and children.
An asthma nebulizer is a breathing machine that delivers asthma medication directly into the lungs. Asthma nebulizers are often used by people who have trouble using asthma inhalers, especially infants, small children, or the elderly. Some nebulizers are portable and battery powered. Others are designed to be used at home.
For severe asthma that doesn't respond to medications, bronchial thermoplasty is a treatment option. This treatment, administered on an outpatient basis in three sessions, is used to limit how much the airway can constrict. A small flexible tube, called a bronchoscope, is inserted into the lungs, via the nose or mouth, where it uses heat to singe and thin the smooth muscle in the airways. During an asthma flare-up, the thinner muscles can't narrow as much when triggered.