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Asthma, a chronic disease of the respiratory system, is often related to exposure to allergens. In an asthma attack, the bronchial tubes constrict, become inflamed, and are lined with excessive amounts of fluids. This makes it difficult to breath. Environmental pathogens (allergens, viruses, bacteria), Cold air, exercise, and emotional stress are common triggers of asthmatic episodes. Basically, an asthma attack is an immune response of the bronchial airways caused by dust, smoke, pollens, and other irritants. In response to exposure, the bronchial airways begin to spasm and inflame, followed by the production of excess fluid which leads to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms commonly attributed to asthma. These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening.

Asthma attacks can be instigated by a host of irritants. Among these are:

  • Allergens, i.e. pollens, dust, mold, pet dander.
  • Smoke.
  • Medications including Aspirin and some beta-blockers.
  • Emotional stress.
  • Exercise.
  • Cold temperatures.
  • Smog and outdoor air pollutants.

Diagnosis of asthma generally includes compilation of a detailed history of the patient, including history of allergies, eczema and family history. While asthma is not an allergy, it often accompanies allergic reactions and exposure to allergens. Additionally, those who are prone to allergies are often prone to asthma as well. There are quite a few ailments that can exhibit symptoms similar to asthma. These include pulmonary aspiration, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or adverse reactions to some medications.

Although a severe and acute asthma attack can be life-threatening, asthmatics may exhibit few symptoms between attacks. Generally a combination of therapies are utilized treat asthma attacks. Airway narrowing responds to bronchodilators which open up the airways, allowing for free exchange of oxygen. Those with a confirmed diagnosis of asthma will have preventive and rescue treatments prescribed for their asthma. There is no known cure for asthma, but methods to treat and prevent asthma are very effective. First and foremost, the offending trigger needs to be identified. As with allergy symptoms, after the trigger has been identified, avoidance is key to minimizing asthmatic reactions. Desensitization to allergens has been attempted and successful in some patients. Additionally, avoidance of commonly known triggers is prudent. Treatment is done on a case by case basis but generally consists of a preventative medication, a rescue medication and a medication to relieve symptoms. Your physician or allergy specialist can effectively diagnose your particular symptoms and prescribe asthma medications specific to your symptoms.

Public Health Advisory regarding Asthma Inhalers

Here’s news for asthma patients and their caregivers: it’s time to update your inhaler. In compliance with the Clean Air Act, the US has agreed to phase out the CFC-propelled inhalers that have been standard treatment for asthma, wheezing, and other pulmonary diseases. Asthma patients will now use similar inhalers that are healthier for the environment, hydrofluoroalkane (HFA)-propelled albuterol inhalers.

CFC-propelled inhalers are damaging to the ozone layer, the part of the earth’s atmosphere that protects the earth from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet light. The new hydrofluoroalkane (HFA)-propelled albuterol inhalers are CFC-free and do not negatively effect the ozone layer.

Who Uses CFC/HFA-propelled Inhalers?

Albuterol Inhalers are prescribed for:

  1. Asthma
  2. Wheezing
  3. Bronchospasms (Airway Hyperresponsiveness)
  4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  5. Airway inflammation (Swelling and irritation of the airways)
  6. Chest tightness
  7. Chronic cough
  8. Shortness of breath

Deadline for switching to HFA Inhalers

As of December 31, 2008, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-propelled asthma inhalers will no longer be available. The US Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory on May 30, 2008 to medical professionals and the general public, indicating that patients currently using the CFC inhalers will need to switch to hydrofluoroalkane (HFA)-propelled albuterol inhalers.

CFC Inhalers vs. HFA Inhalers

  1. HFA and CFC inhalers are the same size and shape
  2. HFA and CFC inhalers deliver the same medication you’re used to
  3. HFA and CFC inhalers may be administered slightly differently
  4. HFA inhalers are ozone-friendly
  5. HFA inhalers have a more gentle, misty spray
  6. Many HFA inhalers need to be cleaned between uses
  7. HFA inhalers deliver a warmer puff of air
  8. HFA inhalers have a different taste
  9. CFC inhalers contribute to the hole in the ozone layer
  10. HFA inhalers may be slightly more expensive, depending on your insurance

The Ban on CFCs

As part of an international environmental treaty, the US agreed to take off the market all substances that deplete the ozone layer, including CFCs. This treaty (the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, put together shortly after scientists found a hole in the earth’s ozone layer over Antarctica in 1985) outlines the necessary changes nations must make to protect the ozone layer, including a ban on CFCs. If these changes all take place, experts predict that the earth’s ozone layer will recover completely by the year 2050.

Sources: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Environmental Protection Agency, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, American Lung Association,, Foodallergies .org,,,,,,

Disclaimer: The allergy information on this website is strictly general information and should not be taken as official advice. Please schedule an appointment with an allergy doctor in order to get a proper and full allergy diagnosis.

This article was developed by Utah Allergy Associates of Utah and Adaptivity Pro SEO Services

Phone: (801) 263-8700

Phone: (801) 282-8700