Pollen, mold, animal dander, chemicals, odors, can all trigger an allergic reaction in asthmatics, or people who are afflicted by a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including bronchitis and emphysema. The reaction to these “triggers” is enough to cause inflammation of the lungs and airways, constricting them, releasing more mucous, while bringing about bouts of wheezing and coughing. To aid such people to breathe freely, by opening their blocked airways, is a gift from the field of medicine – Advair Diskus.
This is a controller medication consisting of two compounds – Flutacisone and Salmeterol, and comes with a specially made device that is preloaded with blister packs containing this medicine. Each time the device is opened, a blister pack is loaded, ready to be inhaled. Prolonged use of Advair Diskus can help patients to develop resistance to asthma, but it cannot work when an asthmatic attack or acute bronchospasm is underway. For emergencies, another fast acting inhaler should be used.
This medicine is meant as a maintenance treatment in asthma for adults as well as children, and for treating COPD in adults, but it is not recommended for use in children who have COPD. Children who fall victim to any pulmonary disease have to use another medication.
We never give a second thought to our natural gifts until those little ordinary acts get threatened, like breathing in and breathing out. Asthma and COPD are chronic diseases in which breathing becomes a bit of a struggle. In such individuals, the moment they sense a “trigger” – dust mites, pollen, mold, animal dander, chalk dust, chemicals, pollution, tobacco smoke, odors – their body responds by releasing certain chemicals such as leukotrienes. These chemicals react immediately by causing swelling in the airways, making them red, while the muscles around the airways begin to tighten. The afflicted individual now experiences difficulty in breathing, as he/she wheezes and coughs, trying to get rid of the excess sputum, so that the airways clear and the life-saving oxygen move easily inside the airways.
To make life worse for sufferers, there are various kinds of allergies! These include Seasonal allergies that occur in the springtime or autumn when pollen, grass, and mold counts are high. Allergic rhinitis, the chief seasonal disorder in almost 75% of Americans, is caused by ragweed. People can experience allergic rhinitis the whole year round because they may be allergic to mold on wallpaper, carpeting, upholstery, houseplants, pollution caused by automobile emissions, or even their pet’s hair! Non-allergic rhinitis can be “triggered” by smoke from a cigarette – could be second-hand smoking, strong perfumes/odors, alcoholic beverages, and cold weather.
This can happen to adults and children alike. Most children who have asthma are said to have experienced it for the first time before they reach their 5th birthday. In the very young, boys are more prone to having asthma than girls, but when a parent [or both parents] have asthma, the likelihood of their child/children having asthma increases.
COPD, which affects people in more or less the same way as asthma, is also a chronic condition, but it can get worse over time and imperil life. Dust, smoking, air pollution, and breathing in cold air for such people results in bronchospasm and shortness of breath. While there are no cures as yet for COPD or asthma, medication can provide relief, but if it is accompanied with proper diet and exercise, it will help you more.
Fluticasone is a corticosteroid, which prevents inflammation; Salmeterol blocks the leukotrienes, relaxing the narrowed muscles in the airways and lungs; together in Advair Diskus, these two medicines provide relief from asthmatic symptoms and to those suffering from COPD. Taken over a long time, this medication can actually help asthma patients to build-up resistance to allergens, but the medicine must be taken only as indicated, and inhaled twice daily.
When you meet the pulmonologist/pediatric pulmonologist, inform the physician if you [or your child] have any heart problem, epilepsy/seizure disorder, tuberculosis, osteoporosis, diabetes, glaucoma, hypertension, any infection, thyroid disorder, liver malfunction, or a weak immune system. If you are allergic to Fluticasone or Salmeterol, or if you have any other allergies, inform your doctor about it. Keep a list of all medicines you take handy – including prescription/OTC medicines-nutritional supplements-herbal products – and let the physician know about these, as medicines like NSAIDs, anti-hypertensives, angina/cardiac medications, anti-diabetic medicines, anti-allergy drugs, analgesics, antipyretics, anti-anxiety drugs, antipsychotic drugs, diuretics, bronchodilators for COPD, or other medicines for asthma, are amongst those that interact with Advair.
Advair may cause some side effects – the common ones are headache, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, hoarse voice with a dry mouth/nose/
throat, or stuffy nose with a cough/sore throat/sinus pain. If an allergic reaction happens – itching, rash, labored breathing, tightness in the chest, or swelling in the face/mouth/lips/tongue – stop the medicine and inform your doctor. If any symptom becomes bothersome, or some rare/serious symptom occurs, or if you feel you have taken an overdose, you must get emergency help at once. These symptoms may include severe chest pain, bronchospasm, irregular/rapid heartbeat, tremors, cough with yellow/green phlegm, white patches/sores inside the mouth/on the lips, vaginal odor/discharge, severe muscular pain/weakness/spasms, numbness/tingling sensation in the hands/feet, or fever/chills/sore throat/earache/increased phlegm/persisting headache [that could be due to an infection].
Osteoporosis may be a side effect, especially if there is a family history of the same. While you can counter osteoporosis by taking the right amount of Calcium and Vitamin D, stop smoking, and perform some exercise daily, if it’s a child who is taking Advair Diskus and is not growing normally, inform the pediatric pulmonologist and follow the doctor’s advice.
There could be a heightened risk of developing eye problems such as cataracts, or glaucoma, so be regular with your eye check-ups. The medicine could weaken your immune system so it would be better for you to steer clear of those who have any kind of an infection, but if you do get exposed to chicken pox, or measles, inform your doctor immediately, as these infections can be dangerous for people taking steroids.
Take the medicine regularly, as prescribed, but don’t take it in larger amounts, as Salmeterol has been linked to asthma-related deaths. If you are taking another steroid as well, ask your doctor how it can be tapered off, but don’t attempt to do it on your own, as it may lead to unpleasant withdrawal effects. In case you find that you have to rely more and more on your asthma medications, inform your doctor, for this could be one way of your body telling you that a serious asthmatic attack is on the way.
Pregnant or lactating women, as well as those who are planning to have a child, must consult their doctor before taking this medicine. Keep in regular touch with your doctor, who will be able to advise you about the uses of this medicine, its side effects, interactions, and precautions for you to follow.
It would be useful to wear a medical alert ID, or carry an identification card, so that should there be any emergency, medical personnel will know which medicines you are taking and those that you may need at all times.
Store Advair Diskus at room temperature, saving it from being exposed to heat, light and moisture; and keep it out of reach of your children and pets.