Uncontrolled Symptoms

When you have an asthma attack, your airways become inflamed and can lead to coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty inhaling and exhaling. Typically, these symptoms can be controlled by a combination of minimizing your exposure to your triggers and using medication preventatively. But occasionally some asthma patients may have times when these methods just aren't enough to manage the condition effectively.

The Risks

If you have severe asthma that is uncontrolled for extended periods of time, your airway tubes may become permanently damaged. This occurs as the result of several factors, including:

  • Persistent inflammation or scarring that thickens the airway wall
  • Increased mucus production
  • Increased blood supply in the airways

These characteristics over the long term can lead to narrowed airways that will no longer be reversed by medication. When this occurs, this is called airway remodeling

You are more at risk for this condition if you have very serious asthma and it isn't well managed. The longer you've had asthma and the earlier your condition was diagnosed can also play a role in putting you at higher risk for this complication.

The Impact

When you have asthma symptoms that are well control, you should usually be able to complete your everyday activities as normal. When you suffer permanent airway remodeling or narrowed airways, however, you can feel the consequences on a daily basis and find that this condition hampers your activities. This is because your lung capacity becomes permanently reduced and you will have more difficulty expelling asthma from your lungs. Unlike during an asthma attack, you may still feel very well, but if the narrowing is severe, completely the simplest activities like going up and down stairs or taking a walk can become more difficult for you.

Prevention is Key

Since airway remodeling can't be treated, it is of the utmost importance that you do everything you can to try to avoid this condition. Experts say that the best way to protect yourself is to follow your doctor's advice to ensure your asthma stays under control. Typically using a combination of control medications to keep your symptoms at bay, coupled with fast-acting relief inhalers for times when your symptoms flare, is most effective.

In addition, avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke and steering clear of your allergy triggers both in your home and in your environment can help reduce your risks for this and other complications.

Finally, developing an asthma action plan with the help of your doctor that will enable you to stay on top of effectively managing your condition and treating it properly can help you to protect your health and reduce your risk of permanently damaging your airways.