The goals with asthma treatment are to:
- Prevent or minimize the number of asthma attacks a person has
- Resolve asthma attacks quickly and reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations
- Achieve and maintain good asthma control
- Minimize and slow the progression of lung damage
- Identify, treat, and resolve where possible conditions that exacerbate asthma and complications associated with asthma or medication side effects
- Educate people and have them be an integral part of their treatment
- Encourage an active normal lifestyle
Prevention of asthma attacks is a combination of avoiding substances that trigger episodes, having good asthma control, and recognizing and addressing the early signs of an impending attack. For more on this, visit the American Lung Association's (ALA) web page on Managing Asthma.
Asthma treatment is tailored to the individual and depends upon the severity of the person's asthma. Even people with mild intermittent asthma may occasionally have severe acute asthma attacks. Some asthma medications are given to reduce airway inflammation, while others are used to relax muscles surrounding the airways to make breathing easier. Both long-term and short-term asthma controls must be addressed.
- Long-acting medications are typically taken on a daily basis to help prevent attacks.
- Quick-acting medications are used as needed to provide relief during an asthma attack.
People with asthma should work with their healthcare provider to become educated about and to monitor their or their child's condition and to determine the best medications to treat their asthma over time. They should develop a treatment plan that guides their day-to-day asthma control, guides their actions when an asthma attack occurs, and helps them determine when they should seek medical attention. Healthcare practitioners will take a person's entire clinical picture into account, as well as all of the drugs that the person is taking to determine the best course of treatment. The ALA web site has detailed information on asthma medicines and their use.