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.

Quick GuideAsthma Attack Signs, Treatments, and Prevention

Asthma Attack Signs, Treatments, and Prevention

What are over-the-counter (OTC) asthma medications?

All asthma medications require a prescription since patients with asthma should be followed regularly by a health-care professional. There are currently no OTC asthma medications that are recommended for use in asthma treatment guidelines.

What are asthma medication guidelines?

The asthma medication guidelines classify asthma into different categories based on asthma symptoms during the day, asthma symptoms during the nighttime, use of rescue medications, impact of asthma on daily life, use of oral steroids, and breathing tests done in medical offices (spirometry). The asthma classifications include mild intermittent asthma, mild persistent asthma, moderate persistent asthma, and severe persistent asthma.

Patients classified as having mild intermittent asthma generally only require short-acting rescue medications. Mild persistent asthma is treated with inhaled corticosteroids as recommended first-line therapy, with a leukotriene modifier, theophylline, or cromolyn as alternative therapies to the inhaled corticosteroids.

Patients with moderate persistent asthma are usually treated with an inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting beta-agonist, a higher dose of inhaled corticosteroid, or an inhaled steroid plus a leukotriene modifier or possibly theophylline.

Patients with severe persistent asthma are treated with the higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids plus the long-acting beta-agonists, leukotriene modifiers, possibly theophylline, possibly tiotropium, and possibly anti-IgE or anti IL-5 therapy. Patients with difficult-to-control asthma often end up on multiple types of medications, and some may require oral steroids to maintain control.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/22/2016

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