Medications for Asthma

This article explains different types of Medications for asthma, Medications of fast action, OTC medicines for asthma, and much more.

Medications for Asthma

Medications against asthma play a major role in the treatment and control of asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease (which can last a lifetime), which exacerbates inflammatory processes in the airways, intermittent recurrences of narrowing of the airways, increasing the formation of mucus and cough. Choosing the right medications is the most important thing in preventing asthma attacks and returning to a normal active lifestyle.

Drug treatment focuses on these points:

  • Taking medications that control inflammation and prevent exacerbation of chronic symptoms such as coughing or choking during sleep, early in the morning or after exercise (long-acting medications).
  • Taking medications to stop the onset of asthma attack (quick-acting medications).
  • Avoidance of asthma triggers.
  • Daily observation of asthma symptoms (entry in the diary).
  • Daily use of a pneumotachometer to monitor the operation of the lungs.

There are two main types of long-term or fast-acting medications:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs. This is a very important type of therapy for most asthmatics since these medications prevent asthma attacks at the very beginning. Steroids, the so-called corticosteroids, are the main type of anti-inflammatory drugs for people with asthma. These drugs reduce swelling and mucus formation in the airways. As a result, the airways become less sensitive and do not react so sharply to asthma triggers.
  • BronchodilatorsThese drugs relieve the symptoms of asthma, relaxing the muscles that constrict the respiratory tract. These drugs quickly expand the airways, which allows oxygen to freely enter and exit the lungs. As a result, breathing normalizes. Bronchodilators also help clear the lungs of excess mucus. Since the airways are sufficiently expanded, the mucus can freely pass through them and accordingly it is easily expectorated.

Above listed medications can be used in many ways. Successful treatment should allow you to return to normal and active life. If the symptoms of asthma are not controlled, then you need to contact your doctor before he reconsiders the program for treating your asthma.

Note : The new drug, called Xolair, suppresses the allergic reaction, which most often causes blockage of the respiratory tract. It does not give the protein of the immune system (which is the cause of the worsening of the symptoms of allergic asthma) to start acting.

Long-acting drugs

Doctors and specialists in the treatment of asthma believe that asthma consists of two main elements: inflammatory processes in the airways and acute bronchoconstriction (narrowing of the lumen of the bronchus). Studies have shown that reducing and preventing the further development of inflammatory processes is a key point in preventing an asthma attack, hospitalization and death.

Long-acting drugs are taken daily for a long period of time in order to achieve and maintain control over the symptoms of chronic asthma (asthma, which exacerbates symptoms more than twice a week and frequent attacks affecting daily human activity).

The most effective long-acting drugs that are used to treat asthma are those that stop inflammatory processes (anti-inflammatory drugs), but there are others that are used together with anti-inflammatory drugs to enhance their action.

Long-acting drugs include:

  • Corticosteroids (an inhaled form of anti-inflammatory drugs used in chronic asthma)
  • Stabilizer of mast cells (anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Beta-agonist long-acting (bronchodilators, often used together with anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Teofilin (bronchodilator used with anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent attacks of nocturnal asthma)
  • Modifier of leukotriene (an alternative to steroids and a stabilizer of mast cells)
  • Xolair (an injectable drug that is used when inhaled steroids do not help people with moderate and severe asthma symptoms, as well as allergies)

Medications of fast action

These drugs are used to quickly stop an asthma attack (coughing, chest compressions, wheezing – all signs of bronchoconstriction).

These drugs include:

  • A beta-agonist of rapid action (bronchodilators used to stop an asthma attack and exacerbation of asthma stress symptoms)
  • An anticholinergic agent (bronchodilators that are used in combination with a fast-acting beta-agonist when necessary, or as an alternative to other drugs)
  • Systemic corticosteroid (anti-inflammatory drugs, which are used in extreme cases to quickly stop the attack and restore the body’s ability to work)

Inhalers, aerosols, and tablets

Medical preparations for the treatment of asthma can be in dry form, inhaled with a metered inhaler or aerosol, liquid or tablets. A new type of drug, called Xolair, is injected under the skin with the help of an injection.

Bronchodilators: a remedy for acute Asthma symptoms
Bronchodilators: a remedy for acute Asthma symptoms

Some drugs can be taken at the same time. Some inhalers contain two drugs at once. This allows you to enter into the body immediately two drugs, thereby shortening the time of taking medication and, accordingly, reducing the number of breaths needed to treat asthma symptoms.


Theophylline is another type of bronchodilator that is used to control asthma symptoms, but it is not sold as an inhaler. Theophylline is sold under well-known brands such as Theo-24, Slo-Bid or Theo-Dur, and is taken orally (tablet and liquid) or intravenously (via a vein). Theophylline is a long-acting medicine that prevents asthma attacks. Teofilin is used to treat difficultly controlled or severe types of asthma and is taken daily.

Side effects of theophylline include:

  • Nausea and / or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach ache
  • Headache
  • Frequent or irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Hyperactivity

These side effects of theophylline may also be a sign of drug overdose. The attending physician should check the level of the medicine in the blood to make sure that you are taking the right amount of medicine.

You should always tell your doctor if you are taking theophylline, as some drugs, for example, antibiotics containing erythromycin, substances against an epileptic fit, can affect the effect of theophylline. Also, make sure that your doctor knows exactly about your condition since some diseases can change the body’s response to theophylline.

And do not forget that smoking and cigarette smoke not only aggravates the symptoms of asthma, but it can also affect the body’s response to theophylline. In any case, it is better to quit smoking and avoid places where people smoke.

Are there OTC medicines for asthma?

Yes. The most famous non-prescription drugs are Primatene Mist and Bronkaid. Both these drugs work, like the bronchodilator, relaxing the muscles surrounding the airways. They give a brief relief (20-30 minutes), but do not support the control of asthma symptoms and do not prevent asthma attacks. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disease, cardiovascular diseases are not recommended to take Primatene Mist and Bronkaid.

Unfortunately, most people do not take the medicine correctly or in the wrong dose. OTC drugs are not intended for prolonged use, although some people take them daily to alleviate the symptoms of asthma.

If you take over-the-counter medications and still experience constant worsening of symptoms, check with your doctor. And if you take medications prescribed by your doctor and sometimes over-the-counter drugs, you also need to inform the doctor about it. Surely you do not want to take more medicine than your body needs.

Can allergic injections be used to treat asthma?

Recent research has shown that allergic injections (immunotherapy) for children with allergies not only do not improve the symptoms of allergies but can also give an impetus to the further development of asthma. Since in most cases asthma is caused by an allergy, treatment of an allergy will lead to a reduction in the exacerbation of asthma symptoms.

Ask your doctor if you can become a candidate for immunotherapy.

How often should I take medications?

Asthma can not be cured. The frequency of taking medications to support the body depends on how serious asthma is and how often the symptoms appear. For example, if the symptoms worsen only when the allergy is exacerbated, then you need to take the medication during this period. However, most people with asthma should take medication daily.

A few words about medications

Medications are the basis of asthma control. Try to learn more about the medicines prescribed to you. You need to know exactly what medications are included in your treatment program when you need to take them, what the result should be and what to do if they do not help. Remember some tips:

  • Never allow a break in taking medication. Call the pharmacy or your doctor and order the medicine at least 48 hours before the end of the medication. You must have a pharmacy phone number and your doctor, and you need to know the name and dosage of medications.
  • Apply to the treatment program if you forget how and when to take the medicine. The treatment program is signed to ensure that you keep the disease as effectively as possible. You must clearly understand and follow this program.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before taking medicines.
  • Do not hurry. Do not be too lazy to check the name and dosage of the medicine again.
  • Keep medicines as directed.
  • Regularly check the liquid preparations. If the color changed or the liquid crystallized, then this drug must be discarded and bought another.
  • Inform your doctor if you are taking any other medicines. Some drugs can change the effects of asthma medications while taking it. Most asthma medications are safe. However, side effects can occur at any time and depend on the drugs themselves and their dosage. Immediately notify your doctor about any unusual or serious side effects.
  • Most medications that are used to treat asthma are safe. Nevertheless, side effects can occur at any time and depend on the drugs themselves and their dosage. Ask your doctor or pharmacologist about side effects. Tell your doctor immediately if there are any minor side effects.
Medications for Asthma
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