For those suffering from asthma and struggling to control their breathing, leading an active life is a real possibility thanks to the array of medications and treatments available today.
“The goal recommended by asthma care guidelines is for every person to be able to go about their daily activities without asthma symptoms,” said Dr. Michael Akerman, a pulmonologist with Highland Medical, P.C., Palisades Pulmonary and director of Pulmonology at Nyack Hospital. “My approach is that every person should be able to say, ‘Sometimes I feel like I don’t have asthma anymore!’ If you are taking your medications but still have symptoms, there is usually a lot more that can be done to help you feel better.”
Akerman believes more than 90 percent of asthma patients can achieve asthma control with proper use of medication. “I tell my patients that if they have any side effects, they should tell me right away, because we can switch to different treatment options,” said Akerman, who is also a clinical associate professor of medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and NYU Langone Medical School.
One specific treatment that Akerman has seen incredible success with is biologics. These antibodies block the connection between chemical messengers from the immune system and the part of lung cells that cause an asthma attack, virtually eliminating attacks. “These medications can be a game-changer," said Akerman. "I’ve had patients who started on biologics and have been able to get back to their normal activities—shopping, swimming or taking their grandchildren to the park.”
Even with proper treatment, those with asthma should always plan an asthma action plan. This will show daily treatment, such as what kinds of medicines to take and when to take them. The plan describes how to control asthma long-term and how to handle asthma attacks. “In most people, asthma slowly worsens over hours or days," said Akerman. "Having a plan allows you to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control and becomes life threatening.”
While controlling asthma is achievable, it does take time. “This isn’t something you can magically fix in just one visit,” said Akerman. “As with anything else in life, to achieve asthma control, you have to put in work. We can give people back their normal life, but it takes commitment from both the doctor and patient.”
To learn more about the asthma services offered by Highland Medical, click here.