(BPT) - Twenty-two million Americans, many of whom are children, suffer from the frightening acute attacks and long-term disabilities of chronic asthma. Millions more adults face the increasing burdens and life-altering effects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Managing these conditions effectively means truly understanding when and how to use the necessary medications.
“The numbers are staggering; more than half a million patients undergo hospitalizations each year from poorly controlled asthma alone,” says Don Smart, a specialist pharmacist in the Express Scripts Pulmonary Therapeutic Resource Center (TRC). “For chronic asthma alone, regular use of the right medications could help reduce the rate of hospitalizations by 43 percent; 56 percent for COPD.”
Asthma and COPD are two distinct breathing conditions. Asthma typically develops during childhood. Symptoms like coughing and wheezing are due to inflammation and swelling of the airways, making breathing very difficult. Asthma medications play an important role in keeping symptoms under control. Long-term medications keep asthma under control when used on a day-to-day basis, while short-term medications act as “quick-relief” options that treat symptoms once they start.
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