Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 15 April 2021
Table of Contents :
- Asthma Treatments
- Asthma Medications
- Rescue inhalers (or quick-relief inhalers)
- Preventive long-term medications
- How Do You Take Asthma Medications?
- Side Effects of Asthma Medications
- Other Asthma Treatments
- Asthma Action Plan
- Track your symptoms
- Asthma Lifestyle Home Remedies
- Avoid Asthma Triggers
- Treatment for Allergy-Induced Asthma
- Talk to Your Asthma Specialist
If you or a loved one suffers from asthma, you should be aware of the most effective short- and long-term treatments. This will assist you and your doctor in managing the symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms or an asthma attack, it is crucial to know when to contact your doctor to avoid an emergency.
You may require immediate-acting rescue medications, long-term treatments, or a combination of the two.
Rescue inhalers (or quick-relief inhalers)
These medications are used to alleviate the symptoms of asthma. They loosen the muscles that constrict the airways. This helps to open them up, allowing for easier breathing. Consult your doctor if you are taking this type of medication more than twice a week.
- Short-acting beta-agonists are the first line of defence against asthma symptoms. They include albuterol (ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA), epinephrine (Asthmanefrin, Primatene Mist), and levalbuterol (Xopenex HFA).
- Anticholinergics such as ipratropium (Atrovent) lessen mucus in addition to opening your airways. They exert their effects more slowly than short-acting beta-agonists.
- Oral corticosteroids such as prednisone and methylprednisolone your airways will be less swollen as a result.
- Combination quick-relief medicines possess both an anticholinergic and a beta-adrenergic short-acting agonist.
Preventive long-term medications
These medications alleviate symptoms and help prevent asthma attacks. They decrease the swelling and mucus in your airways, making them less sensitive and prone to react to asthma triggers.
- Inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective medications for long-term control. These are not the same as anabolic steroids, which are commonly used to increase muscle mass.They include beclomethasone (Qvar RediHaler), budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler), ciclesonide (Alvesco), fluticasone (Flovent HFA), and mometasone (Asmanex Twisthaler).
- Inhaled long-acting beta-agonists Relax the smooth muscles that surround your airways to help them open. This medication will be used in conjunction with an inhaled corticosteroid. Formoterol, salmeterol, and vilanterol are some of them.
- Combination inhaled medicines have a corticosteroid inhaler and a long-acting beta agonist. This is a convenient way to transport them together. Advair, Breo, Dulera, and Symbicort are among them.
- Biologics. To avoid airway inflammation, Biologics target a cell or protein in your body. They could be injections or infusions administered every few weeks. They can be costly, which is why they are typically prescribed when other medications fail to work. Biologics include benralizumab (Fasenra), dupilumab (Dupixent), mepolizumab (Nucala), omalizumab (Xolair), and reslizumab (Cinqair).
- Leukotriene modifiers reduce swelling by relaxing the smooth muscles that surround your airways. They are available as pills or liquids.These include montelukast (Singular), zafirlukast (Accolate), and zileuton (Zyflo).
- Cromolyn prevents your airways from swelling when they come into contact with an asthma trigger. It’s a non-steroid medicine that comes in an inhaler.
- Theophylline (Theo-24, TheoDur) relaxes the smooth muscles that contribute to the narrowing of your airways. It is available in the form of a tablet, capsule, solution, or syrup.
- Long-acting bronchodilators. If you continue to have asthma symptoms despite taking a daily inhaled steroid, you may use tiotropium (Spiriva) in combination with corticosteroids. Never use long-acting bronchodilators alone to treat asthma for an extended period of time.
- Corticosteroids. If no other medication is effective in controlling your asthma attacks, your doctor may prescribe these medications for a couple of weeks. They are available as pills or liquids.
Asthma Medications Types
Asthma inhalers are the most widely used and effective method of administering asthma medication to the lungs. They come in a variety of varieties and operate in a variety of ways. Several deliver a single medication. Others are composed of two medications. Your doctor may prescribe:
- A metered-dose inhaler, which utilises a small aerosol canister to deliver medication in a brief burst through a plastic mouthpiece.
- A dry powder inhaler, which only releases the medication when a deep breath is taken
If you have difficulty with small inhalers, your doctor may suggest a nebulizer. This machine converts liquid asthma medications to a mist, making it easier to inhale the medication. Additionally, it features a mouthpiece or mask, making it an excellent choice for toddlers, children, elderly, or anyone who has difficulty using inhalers with spacers. It is slightly more time consuming to use than an inhaler.
Side Effects of Asthma Medications
Numerous medications have adverse effects. For instance, inhaled steroids can cause mild side effects such as thrush infections and sore throats, as well as more serious side effects such as eye disorders and bone loss. Keep your doctor informed of the effectiveness of your treatment and any side effects. They'll work with you to keep your asthma under control using the fewest possible medications.
Other Asthma Treatments
Medications are not the only option for asthma control. Additionally, your doctor may try a procedure called bronchial thermoplasty.
Individuals with asthma frequently have an excess of smooth muscle in their airway walls. Your doctor will use a small tube called a bronchoscope to send heat to the walls and relax the smooth muscle during this procedure. The treatment will take place over three visits spaced approximately two or three weeks apart.
Asthma Action Plan
You and your doctor will collaborate to develop an action plan. It can be printed or accessed online. In either case, it will assist you in controlling your condition by providing information and instructions on:
- How to determine if your symptoms have gotten worse
- Medication to take both when you are feeling well and when your symptoms worsen
- What to do in an emergency
- Contact information for a doctor in the event of an emergency
- Controlling asthma triggers
Track your symptoms
As part of your asthma action plan, you may need to keep track of your symptoms. Plans are typically divided into three sections:
- Green. You are either not aware of any symptoms or have them under control. You can continue to take your regular medications.
- Yellow. Your symptoms have become more frequent or severe. You may need to switch treatments or take more medication.
- Red. You have severe symptoms that require immediate treatment, usually with a combination of medications.
Asthma Lifestyle Home Remedies
You can try these things while sticking to your treatment plan:
- Breathing exercises. These can help you use less medication to control your symptoms.
- Herbal and natural remedies. Some things that may help alleviate asthma symptoms are as follows:
- Black seed oil (Nigella sativa). Some studies have shown that it can aid in the opening of airways.
- Caffeine. It is a mild bronchodilator, which means it can open your airways but not as quickly as medications. Caffeine should be avoided for several hours before any medical appointment that may include a lung function test.
- Choline. This allows your body to function properly. It is found in meat, liver, eggs, poultry, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and cauliflower, as well as as a supplement.
- Pycnogenol. This pine bark extract is available as a supplement.
Avoid Asthma Triggers
Many things in your environment can trigger an asthma attack. You can reduce the possibility of major issues by keeping them under control. Among the most common triggers are:
- Pet dander. If you can't live without a pet, keep it out of your bedroom.
- Dust mites. Wash your bedding in hot water, vacuum your furniture, and, if possible, remove carpets. If possible, have someone else vacuum. If you do it, wear a dust mask.
- Pollen and outdoor mold. Keep the windows shut. From late morning to afternoon, stay inside.
- Tobacco smoke. Get help quitting smoking if you smoke. Don't allow others to smoke in your house or car.
- Cockroaches. Food and garbage should be kept in closed containers, and your home should be pest-free. Stay out of the room until the fumes have dissipated.
- Cold air. In cold weather, cover your mouth and nose..
- Indoor mold. Repair leaking pipes and use bleach to clean mouldy surfaces.
Treatment for Allergy-Induced Asthma
If allergies are the cause of your asthma, your doctor may prescribe medications such as:
- Omalizumab (Xolair). It targets proteins in your body that become more active when you come into contact with an allergen. It is administered via injection every two to four weeks.
- Immunotherapy. These allergy shots or drops placed under your tongue gradually increase your tolerance to allergy triggers. They may even be able to cure the allergy.
Talk to Your Asthma Specialist
If you've been diagnosed with asthma but your treatment is no longer working, it's time to schedule another appointment with your doctor. Similarly, if you find yourself using your rescue inhaler excessively, consult your doctor. You may need to alter your asthma treatment regimen in order to achieve better control.
Although asthma is a fairly common condition, it is a serious condition that requires diagnosis and treatment. Consult your doctor for asthma support and to determine the medications that are most effective for you.
Referenced on 11/4/2021
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Family Doctor: “Asthma: Learning to Control Your Symptoms."
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “AAAI Allergy & Asthma Medication Guide."
- “Asthma G.A.P. in America: General Awareness and Perceptions," a telephone survey conducted with 3,042 adults in 2007.
- National Jewish Health: “Bronchial Thermoplasty.”
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: “Asthma Action Plan.”
- Mayo Clinic: “Asthma.”
- Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal: “Medicinal benefits of Nigella sativa in bronchial asthma: A literature review.”
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “AAFA Explains: Will Coffee or Caffeinated Drinks Help My Asthma?”
- National Institutes of Health: “Choline.”
- Panminerva Medica: “Pycnogenol® improvements in asthma management.”
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Asthma Treatment.”
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Dry Powder Inhaler Definition.”
- Medscape: “What is the role of ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) in the treatment of status asthmaticus?”
- UpToDate: “Patient education: Asthma treatment in adolescents and adults (Beyond the Basics).”
- American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Asthma Treatment.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Biologic Therapy for Severe Asthma.”
- Mayo Clinic: “Asthma medications: Know your options.”