Medication Compliance

The two words that seem to make everyone squirm: medication compliance.

The two words apart from each other aren't bad but when they are put together have a negative connotation. But they shouldn't. I wanted to take some time to talk about the importance of medication compliance for the treatment of asthma.

Medication compliance is important for asthma treatment

There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to asthma treatment. Understanding why we need to take our medications and what will happen if we don't is vital.

This post is going to be more geared toward the asthmatics who need to take asthma medication every day, not so much to those with mild intermittent asthma and only need a rescue inhaler every once in awhile.

Taking your prescribed asthma medication every day is vital to help keep your asthma under control. It is necessary to take your daily maintenance inhalers even if you feel totally fine. I hear it often from asthmatics that they stopped taking their steroid inhaler once they got over their asthma flare up or no longer feel sick. Steroid inhalers help reduce inflammation in the lungs which is what happens with asthma.

What happens during an asthma flare?

There are actually three things that happen when your asthma acts up - which can be outlined using the SET acronym. Swelling of the airways, Excess mucus production, and Tightening of the bronchial tubes. Daily maintenance inhalers keep all three of those things in check so when you are exposed to a trigger your asthmatic response will not be as severe and ideally you won’t be affected at all.

We all have different triggers and react to them differently. While the majority of asthmatics have allergies (which tend to be major triggers) not all do.
Another reason why asthmatics might not be compliant with taking medications is because of the concern over side effects. It is true that they often come with a laundry list of potential side effects and some of them are scary. The key word there is ‘potential.’ Pharmaceutical companies are required to disclose any and all possible and potential side effects.

I want to make sure to clarify that just because they are listed, doesn't mean you will experience them. You might notice that many inhalers come with very similar potential side effect warnings. Keep in mind that your doctor has prescribed your medication because he/she feels that the benefits outweighs the risk.

What could happen when severe asthmatics don't practice medication compliance?

Not taking your asthma medication can lead to your asthma spiraling out of control. If you are needing to take your rescue inhaler more than 2 times a week it is a sign of uncontrolled asthma. Uncontrolled asthma over time can lead to irreversible airway remodeling which is another term for scaring of the airways. Staying compliant with your inhalers will help keep that from happening.

If you are taking your asthma medications and are still having asthma flare-ups definitely talk to your doctor about either increasing the dose or switching to a different medication. Keep in mind that it can take a minimum of two weeks to notice a difference in how you feel so don't get discouraged. On the flip side, if your asthma is very stable and controlled on your medications, it is possible to step down to a lower dose etc with the help of your doctor. NEVER attempt to stop or reduce your inhalers on your own.

Regardless if you are feeling fine or having an asthma flare be sure to take your prescribed medications every single day. Your lungs will thank you for it!

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