Asthma Medications

  • Medical Author:
    Syed Shahzad Mustafa, MD

    After growing up in the Rochester area, Dr. Mustafa pursued his undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and attended medical school at SUNY Buffalo. He then completed his internal medicine training at the University of Colorado and stayed in Denver to complete his fellowship training in allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Colorado, National Jewish Health, and Children's Hospital of Denver.

  • Medical Author: Allison Ramsey, MD
    Allison Ramsey, MD

    Dr. Allison Ramsey earned her undergraduate degree at Colgate University and her medical degree at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She completed her internal medicine training at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and remained at the university to complete her fellowship training in allergy and clinical immunology. Dr. Ramsey is board certified in internal medicine and allergy and immunology. Her professional interests include the treatment of drug allergy and eosinophilic disorders. She also enjoys teaching medical trainees. She is a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the New York State Allergy Society, and the Finger Lakes Allergy Society. In her personal life, her interests include exercise, especially running and horseback riding; and spending time with her husband and two children.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Asthma Attack Treatment

Quick GuideAsthma: The Anatomy of an Asthma Attack

Asthma: The Anatomy of an Asthma Attack

What are the various kinds of asthma medications for toddlers and children?

Short-acting beta-agonists (albuterol and levalbuterol) are used as rescue medications in children and toddlers. These may be used via an inhaler with a spacer and face mask in younger children and via inhaler in older children. These medications are also available in nebulized form, which may be easier to use in infants and toddlers.

Inhaled corticosteroids are the mainstay for daily controller medications in children and toddlers. The choice of which inhaled corticosteroid often comes down to which medication delivery device is preferred by caretakers. Young children can use metered-dose inhalers with a spacer and face mask, as long as caregivers are trained and feel comfortable with the proper technique. Budesonide is available via nebulizer, and this may be easier for infants and younger toddlers. Some children may also feel comfortable with a dry powder inhaler. If used properly, all medication delivery devices are effective, so choice is usually individualized based on caregiver and child preference. Combination inhalers are also used in children, and health-care professionals caring for children with asthma may choose these for children with moderate to severe asthma.

The leukotriene modifier medications are also used in children. Montelukast is available in granules that can be sprinkled on food and is approved for infants as young as 6 months of age. It is also available in chewable form. Zafirlukast is available for children 5 years old and up. Zileuton is recommended for children 12 years old and up.

Omalizumab may be used in children 12 years old and up with poorly controlled asthma and evidence of allergic sensitization.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/27/2015

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