Treat Asthma Inflammation
Until the 1990s, researchers believed that the most important way to treat asthma was to relieve the symptoms. Now, the medical community understands that asthma is an inflammatory disease, and that treating the inflammation can often reduce the symptoms themselves.
There are new medications available to people with mild to moderate asthma. These drugs are not steroids. They block the effects of some of the inflammatory agents that cause the wheezing, coughing, breathlessness and chest tightness of asthma.
Talk with your doctor about your current asthma treatment regimen. It's possible that this new class of medications may be appropriate for you.
Source: National Institutes of Health, April 2002
Treating Lyme Disease
Since Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, oral antibiotics are the common treatment for it. If the disease has progressed and symptoms become more involved-joint pain, heart problems, neurological problems-then it may be necessary to be treated with an antibiotic intravenously (directly into the vein).
Oral or intravenous treatment typically lasts 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the severity of the symptoms. There is currently no evidence that other types of medications or approaches to antibiotic treatment are more likely to cure the disease.
Early treatment for Lyme disease is the key. If you notice a rash (sometimes it resembles a bull's eye, but not always) and flu-like symptoms, consider getting tested for the condition.
Source: The American Lyme Disease Association, April 2002
Nicotine Addictive as Heroin
Nicotine, found naturally in the leaves of the tobacco plant, is highly addictive. It reaches the brain faster than heroin, for example.
That's why it's hard to quit smoking. It's not a simple matter of deciding to stop. You might need help.
- Join a stop smoking program, such as Freedom from Smoking (by the American Lung Association)
- Quit at a time that's good for you-not a stressful time or a holiday
- Get regular exercise every day. Exercise can help you fight the stress that comes with quitting.
- Talk to your doctor for recommendations about quitting. People who get advice from their doctors tend to have a little more success.
Call the American Lung Association at 1-800-586-4872 for advice about quitting, self-help guides, audio and videotapes and group clinics.
Source: American Lung Association, April 2002
Pills for Better Sleep?
While it may be tempting to take over-the-counter sleeping pills to relieve chronic insomnia, the practice is controversial. The long-term effectiveness of these medications is not proven, and there is always the possibility of side effects. If you suffer from insomnia, it's a better idea to talk with your doctor about other types of changes you can make first, such as diet, exercise, sleeping schedule, type of mattress you use, etc. Anyone who takes sleeping pills should do so under close evaluation of a physician.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Center on Sleep Disorders Research, April 2002
Treatment for Apnea
Sleepiness during the day, loud snoring and pauses in breathing during sleep are symptoms of sleep apnea. Getting treatment can improve the quality of sleep and reduce the risks of sleep apnea, which include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, headaches and memory problems.
Treatment can include losing weight, wearing special masks or dental devices and sometimes, surgery. Taking sleeping pills is not recommended, because the pills can increase the periods of apnea.
Source: The National Sleep Foundation, April 2002