Medications, such as inhalers and nebulizers prevent individuals with asthma from experiencing asthma attacks. An asthma attack is the sudden onset of asthma symptoms which occurs due to a bronchospasm (the constriction of the muscles surrounding the airways). During a bronchospasm, the airways become inflamed and fill with mucous which is much thicker than normal. This makes breathing difficult. The combination of these events causes the symptoms associated with an asthma attack, such as shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing and pain or discomfort in the chest. Individuals with asthma should not ignore asthma medication or asthma symptoms, because the consequences of doing so can be severe.
What Can Happen When You Ignore Asthma Symptoms: The Risks of Living with Untreated Asthma
Choosing to ignore asthma symptoms, rather than seeking treatment and sticking with it, leads to a long list of negative side effects, including:
- Life Interruptions – Uncontrolled asthma symptoms can interrupt your daily life. They get in the way of your ability to enjoy normal activities, exercise regularly, participate in work. They increase the risk of asthma attack triggers.
- Hospitalization – Severe asthma attacks are both frightening and serious. Ignoring asthma symptoms puts you at risk of experiencing a sudden and severe asthma attack, which will likely land you in the hospital with a sizable emergency room bill.
- Anxiety – Anyone who has experienced an asthma attack, but still does not control asthma symptoms with medications (both daily preventatives and quick relief inhalers used as needed) will live with the fear of encountering uncontrollable asthma triggers and experiencing another attack.
- Scarred Lung Tissue and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – Living with uncontrolled asthma damages the tissue lining the airways, leading to the build up of scar tissue and COPD. Scar tissue and COPD are chronic conditions, which cannot be reversed or healed with treatment.
- Death – With fatal asthma, complete respiratory failure occurs. The airways become completely blocked, and medications to open airways are no longer effective. Anyone with uncontrolled asthma is at risk of symptom elevation and a fatal asthma attack.
Stick with Your Asthma Treatment Schedule – Even if You Feel Fine
Just because you feel fine and it has been a long time since you experienced any symptoms related to asthma, does not mean it is okay to ignore asthma medication. Having no symptoms indicates that your asthma medications are working to effectively control your asthma. The absence of symptoms does not mean you no longer have asthma. It is okay to use your quick-relief medications (albuterol inhaler) as needed, but you should take preventative medications exactly as prescribed and scheduled.
Inhaler or nebulizer should be taken daily to prevent the inflammation and flare ups that lead to asthma attacks. Missing doses can reduce the efficacy of these medications, leading to uncontrolled asthma symptoms. If you stick with your medication schedule, but still experience unpredictable asthma symptoms, you should speak with your doctor about adjusting your medications.