Most treatments for asthma act to relax the
beta2 receptors in the bronchial smooth muscle in the lung. (See diagram
from page one).
in the lung. (See diagram from page one).
Asthma along with many other COPD’s is often treated via a method known as nebulization. This is a procedure whereby the drug is administered in the form of tiny droplets that are suspended in air into the respiratory tract. This type of treatment can be used with a variety of different medications, such as chemicals, which relax the smooth muscle of the airways, chemicals that reduces the thickness of mucus, and antibiotics (anti-inflammatory). The treatment of acute asthma attacks is by drugs such as epipherine, which is a beta-adrenergic agonist and simply acts by helping open up the airways, leading to fast effective relief. This can be taken through an inhaler when the sufferer feels short of breath /likely that an attack may occur.
There are two types of inhalers (blue and brown), which are commonly used by asthmatics. Blue inhalers are usually ‘reliever’ inhalers, and are effective in an attack. Brown inhalers are usually taken regularly as a preventative measure.
Salbutamol is fairly similar to adrenaline in the way that it works. They both activate the sympathetic nervous system, but salbutamol acts specifically on beta1 and 2 receptors which are present in the lungs, as well as those present in skeletal muscle, blood vessels, etc. It produces fast heart rate and an increased blood pressure. Its specificity means that there are few adverse effects, which is obviously a huge advantage.
Long-term therapy for asthma however, tries to suppress the underlying inflammation. In this case anti-inflammatory drugs such as glucocorticoids are more effective.
There is also a relatively new drug called Advir Diskus, which is becoming increasingly more popular. It’s the first product of its kind designed to treat the two main causes of asthma. It cannot replace the fast acting effects created by an inhaler, but supposedly reduces the severity of the asthma when taken twice daily.
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