Asthma is one of those diseases linked with childhood. But the truth is that you can be diagnosed with asthma as an older adult.
Asthma can also be a problem that affects you in childhood and then continues into your adult life.
And as an older adult there is the possibility that chest and breathing-related symptoms can increase later in life if you are already dealing with heart disease.
Most asthma sufferers rely on inhalers filled with drugs to keep air passages open. But these inhalers can cause side effects and contain harmful chemicals.
Now, a Canadian research team has discovered a possible alternative cure that doesn’t rely on drugs. It’s called bronchial thermoplasty and it involves the use of electromagnetic energy.
When you experience an asthma attack the muscle tissue lining your air tubes is irritated and starts to spasm. These muscle spasms restrict your air passages and can leave you gasping for air.
The problem gets worse when repeated attacks thicken the muscle tissue in your throat. This makes you even more sensitive to triggers.
Gerard Cox and staff at the St. Joseph’s Health Center in Hamilton developed the procedure of bronchial thermoplasty. They wanted to try and stop the muscle tissue in the throat from expanding.
The procedure involves putting a tiny instrument down the throat and into the airway. A small basket opens up and fits snugly in the airway wall. A short burst of energy is released that heats up the muscle. When the muscle is heated it suffers a mild injury. When it heals, the airway is less able to contract.
Cox and his team used 112 asthma patients in the trial, half of whom underwent the newly developed procedure.
Those who had the new treatment had 86 more symptom- free days a year and nine fewer attacks than patients treated with medication alone.
The patients also needed fewer puffs on their inhalers and had better scores on a number of tests aimed at measuring breathing.
Cox admits that this procedure isn’t likely to gain widespread use amongst asthma sufferers: “We’re not saying this is for everyone. But this procedure looks very promising for people with moderate to severe asthma.”
If you are an asthma sufferer, you may be one of the group who would rather not try this new treatment. Just remember there are still some simple things you can do to help with your condition.
Try to identify and be aware of your triggers. Asthma can be triggered by air pollution. Studies suggest it can also be caused by allergic reactions to foods and chemical additives.
Or attacks might be caused by pollen, dust mites, tobacco smoke, and even cold morning air.
Try to reduce your exposure to your triggers. Talk to your health care provider about treatment options. There are a number of alternative treatments now available that may reduce your risk of exposure to drugs such as steroids.