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Quick GuideAsthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications
How is asthma treated?
Asthma can be controlled, but there's no asthma cure. There are certain goals in asthma treatment. If you are unable to achieve all of these goals, it means asthma is not in good control. You should contact your asthma care provider for help with asthma.
The treatment goals include the following:
- Live an active, normal life.
- Prevent chronic and troublesome symptoms.
- Attend work or school every day.
- Perform daily activities without difficulty.
- Stop urgent visits to the doctor, emergency room, or hospital.
- Use and adjust medications to control asthma with little or no side effects.
Properly using asthma medication, as prescribed by your doctor, is the basis of good asthma control, in addition to avoiding triggers and monitoring daily asthma symptoms. There are two main types of asthma medications:
- Anti-inflammatories: This is the most important type of medication for most people with asthma. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as inhaled steroids, reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways. As a result, airways are less sensitive and less likely to react to triggers. These medications need to be taken daily, and may need to be taken for several weeks before they begin to control asthma. Anti-inflammatories lead to a reduction in symptoms, better airflow, less sensitive airways, less airway damage, and fewer asthma episodes. If taken every day, they are helpful in controlling or preventing asthma.
- Bronchodilators: These medications relax the muscle bands that tighten around the airways. This action rapidly opens the airways, letting more air in and out of the lungs and improving breathing. Bronchodilators also help clear mucus from the lungs. As the airways open, the mucus moves more freely and can be coughed out more easily. In short-acting forms, bronchodilators relieve or stop asthma symptoms and are very helpful during an asthma episode. In long-acting forms, bronchodilators provide control of asthma symptoms and prevent asthma episodes.
Asthma medications can be taken by inhaling the medications (using a metered dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler, or asthma nebulizer) or by swallowing oral medications (pills or liquids). If you are also taking drugs for other conditions, you should work with your providers to check drug interactions and simplify medications when possible.