May is National Asthma Awareness Month and an important time to educate both individuals and families about asthma, its symptoms, triggers, and treatments. Asthma is a medical condition that results in the narrowing and swelling of the airways, causing breathing difficulties, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. While some individuals may experience only minor symptoms, others may have severe asthma attacks that interfere with their daily activities and even pose a life-threatening risk. Although asthma cannot be cured, its symptoms can be managed. It is important for asthma patients to best recognize symptoms, avoid triggers, and work with a provider to treat their condition.
As asthma symptoms tend to change over time, it is important to work closely with your physician and specialty pharmacy team to monitor signs and symptoms and adjust treatment accordingly. Asthma symptoms vary depending on the individual, with some experiencing infrequent asthma attacks, symptoms only during specific times (such as during exercise), or constant symptoms. Common signs and symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, wheezing (especially in children), difficulty sleeping, coughing, and wheezing attacks that may worsen during a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu. Signs that asthma is worsening include more frequent and bothersome symptoms, increasing difficulty breathing (as measured with a peak flow meter), and the need to use a quick-relief inhaler more frequently.
Triggers to Avoid
If someone suffers from asthma, it is necessary to identify triggers (the things that can cause you to have an asthma attack) and find ways to avoid them. Common triggers include dust mites, pets, mold, cockroaches, and pollen. Certain situations may trigger asthma symptoms, such as exercise-induced asthma (which may be worse in cold and dry air), occupational asthma (triggered by workplace irritants), and allergy-induced asthma (triggered by airborne allergens like pollen, mold spores, cockroach waste, or pet dander). While it may not be possible to avoid every trigger, there are tips that can help. Wash bedding once a week in hot water. Use HEPA filters to remove irritants from the air as much as possible. Limit time outside when pollen or mold counts are high or air quality is low. Prevent any dampness in your home in order to avoid mold and irritants becoming prevalent. And if you have pets, keep them out of the bedroom.
Various medications are available to manage asthma symptoms in the long run and provide immediate relief during an asthma attack. The type of medication recommended by your physician will be based on your triggers, frequency of symptoms, and the severity of your condition. Medications used to control asthma may be taken through an inhaler or nebulizer, or taken in pill form. Commonly used medications include inhaled or oral corticosteroids, inhaled long-acting beta agonists, inhaled combination medications that include both a corticosteroid and a beta agonist, leukotriene modifiers, cromolyn sodium, and theophylline. Quick-relief or rescue medications may also be prescribed. Individuals with asthma should have a written action plan that includes the medications they take, how to recognize worsening symptoms, and what to do in an emergency. It is important to take all medications exactly as prescribed, as overusing asthma medication can cause side effects and may make asthma worse. Always consult with your prescribing physician and specialty pharmacy team if there are any questions or concerns.
Specialty Pharmacies Supporting Patients With Asthma
At PFSP Specialty Pharmacy, we offer a comprehensive list of therapies and products to treat asthma conditions. Additionally, patients have access to limited-distribution drugs nationwide. As a URAC-accredited specialty pharmacy, PFSP is proud to exceed industry standards in adherence, medication accuracy, and clinical outcomes. Though asthma can’t be cured, it is possible to manage symptoms and live life to the fullest.
PFSP Specialty Pharmacy provides patients and their physicians an exceptionally high standard of care with our growing team of specialized pharmacists and staff. Our dedicated team of pharmacists focus on improving adherence for patients and work to find an approach that works best for them. Bringing a fresh take on what a Specialty Pharmacy can and should be, we are committed to the care of our patients. We take pride in being an ethical resource within our community and strive each day to help our patients live enriching and full lives.