Childhood Asthma Treatment
There is often concern about potential long-term side effects for even inhaled corticosteroids. Numerous studies have repeatedly shown that even long-term use of inhaled corticosteroids has very few if any sustained clinically significant side effects, including growth in children. However, the goal always remains to treat children (and adults) with the least amount of medication that is effective.
Quick GuideAsthma Pictures Slideshow: The Anatomy of an Asthma Attack
Who is a candidate for asthma medication?
Any patient who has a diagnosis of asthma is a candidate for an asthma medication. Patients with mild, infrequent asthma symptoms may only need a short-acting rescue medication to use when needed, such as albuterol (Ventolin HFA, Proventil-HFA, Vospire ER, ProAir HFA). Patients with more frequent and persistent asthma symptoms are candidates for daily medications. The choice of medication will depend on the severity of the condition.
What are controller medications for asthma (long-term control)?
A controller medication is a daily medication that is used to prevent or improve asthma symptoms in patients who experience frequent symptoms. The decision to use a controller medication for a patient with asthma is based on the frequency and type of daytime or nighttime symptoms, frequency of medical visits for asthma, frequency of requiring asthma rescue medications, frequency of oral steroid use, impact of asthma symptoms on daily life, and breathing tests for asthma, which are performed in the medical office. In patients requiring controller medications, inhaled corticosteroids are generally considered as the first-line therapy for asthma.
What are rescue medications for asthma (short-term control)?
A rescue medication for asthma is a medication that works within minutes to open the airways (bronchodilate) and provides quick relief from asthma symptoms, such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, cough, or wheezing. The rescue medications for asthma include albuterol, levalbuterol (Xopenex), and ipratropium (Atrovent). Of these, albuterol is by far the most commonly prescribed rescue medication for asthma. Levalbuterol is the chemical mirror image of albuterol and may have less potential to make patients restless or jittery. Ipratropium has shown to be helpful when used along with albuterol in patients requiring emergency treatment for asthma. It also may be used in patients who are unable to tolerate albuterol or levalbuterol.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/27/2015