Asthma Medications

Asthma Medications

Asthma Medications

Since inflammation of the airways is the key feature of asthma,anti-inflammatory medications are the mainstay of asthma therapy. Mild-intermittent asthmatics do not have a significant degree of inflammation so do not need a daily anti-inflammatory medication. However, mild, moderate and severe-persistent asthmatics do have airway inflammation that needs to be treated with a daily anti-inflammatory medication.

Medication Categories

Anti-inflammatory Agents: Inhaled Steroids:(Flovent, Advair, Pulmicort, Azmacort, QVAR, Beclovent and Aerobid) The most important anti-inflammatory medications for asthma. Decreases the swelling within the airways and can prevent scarring. Have been shown to significantly improve symptoms, decrease hospitalizations and mortality from asthma. If taken at standard doses, they have not shown to suppress long-term growth in children or many of the other side effects of oral steroids.

Leukotriene Modifiers:(Singulair, Accolate and Zyflo) Leukotrienes are substances in the body contributing to airway inflammation and constriction. This medication class inhibits the action of the leukotrienes and can improve asthma symptoms.

Oral Steroids: Very effective in decreasing air inflammation, but have many side effects if taken over long periods of time. Only the most severe asthmatics need chronic oral steroids. Many asthmatics need short bursts of oral steroids during asthma exacerbations.

Other less commonly used anti-inflammatory medications for asthma are mast-cell stabilizers (Intal, Tilade) and theophylline.

Bronchodilators: Long-acting bronchodialators:(Serevent and Foradil)Relax the muscles around the airways, opening them up for a 12-hour period. Since they do not have significant anti-inflammatory properties, they should not be used alone in the treatment of asthma. However, they work well in conjunction with inhaled steroids. They should be taken twice daily, every day.

Short-acting bronchodialators or rescue inhalers: (*Albuterol, Proventil, *Xopenex, Ventolin, Maxair, Combivent and Atrovent) *Can be used via the nebulizer. Relax the muscles around the airways, opening them up for a 4-6 hour period. They take effect very quickly (within 5 minutes), which makes them important rescue medications. Every asthmatic should have one of these medications in case of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath. If you require this medication more than twice per week on average (with the exception of using prior to exercise) you need to add or increase your anti-inflammatory medication.

*Disclaimer: Results May Vary