Avoiding Airway Remodeling

Proper inhalation techniques can help people with asthma avoid airway remodeling.

As we get older, our lung function naturally declines. The decrease in our lung's ability to function properly can happen more quickly in people with asthma, especially those who experience frequent asthma attacks over a long period of time. Fortunately, proper and consistent asthma management can reduce the pace at which a person loses their ability to breathe.

Airway remodeling and asthma

When people with asthma start to lose their ability to effectively breathe, they undergo something called airway remodeling, meaning the airway is scarred and is not as flexible as normal. The muscles around the airways will squeeze and tighten. The narrowing of the airways causes people with asthma to feel as if they are breathing through a very long, narrow tube.

Also, the airways will become inflamed and make more mucus, contributing to the symptoms that people with asthma feel. Airway remodeling keeps the lungs from easily responding to asthma medicines, so treating people with asthma early can prevent these changes in the lungs from happening.

Managing your asthma

There are a few different types of inhaled medication delivery systems: metered-dose inhalers (MDIs), dry-powder inhalers (DPIs) and nebulizers. Taking the right medicine, at the right time and in the right way helps people to better control their asthma and avoid airway remodeling.

The importance of proper inhalation techniques

MDIs are most common but are the most difficult to master. Correct use of MDIs requires good hand-breath coordination, as people with asthma should be mindful not to breathe in the medicine too fast. If people with asthma cannot master the steps to breathe in the medicine correctly, doctors can prescribe a tube that attaches to their MDI (a valve-holding chamber or spacer). This holds the medicine while allowing them time between activating the device and taking in a slow, deep breath of medicine.

DPIs require patients to take a deep breath in to disperse the powder deep into their lungs; however, for weaker and older patients, this is very challenging.

Other resources for airway remodeling and asthma

The American Lung Association has tools and resources to help adults manage their asthma.

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