Closed airways can be the result of spasm, inflammation and constriction of the soft muscle layers of your lungs. An episode can be mild and manageable or severe, requiring immediate medical treatment. Closed airways are usually caused by colds, viral infections, allergens or irritants that trigger lung inflammation. Your airways become thinner as they become inflamed, reducing the amount of air available. Complications of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, also constrict your airways.
Closed respiratory symptoms may include shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing. In severe cases, a person suffering from this condition may have a bluish tinge to their skin or experience confusion, rapid breathing or chest pain. Intercostal retractions, which occur when your skin sinks between your ribs during air intake, may also be a sign of a constricted airway.
Doctors often use medication to treat closed airways. Albuterol, the most commonly used medicine for this purpose, enters the airways through an inhaler and loosens them, increasing air flow by relaxing the soft muscles of the lungs. Albuterol is a type of drug known as a short-acting beta 2 agonist that offers rapid relief and stays effective for several hours.
Iptratropim, another type of inhaler, loosens the airways and relaxes the lung muscles by regulating the inflammatory process in your body. Some inhalers contain both medications. Generally, this combination is used to treat patients who do not respond well to an inhaler with a single prescription. The long-term versions of both medications can treat people suffering from asthma or chronic COPD.
When medications such as albuterol and ipratropium do not give successful results, doctors often favor corticosteroids, which can be administered orally or through an inhaler. Corticosteroids mimic the hormones your body produces naturally and work to calm the inflammation of the lung responsible for closing the airways. Prednisone, cortisone and hydrocortisone are examples of corticosteroids.
Successful management of asthma-like illnesses and COPD is highly individualized based on the patient's needs and must be carried out under the careful direction of a physician.