Though there is no cure for asthma, the good news is that symptoms get less severe with age. Additionally, symptoms can also be controlled with effective treatment and management.
Medication is always the first choice and most ideal option for managing asthma. The four types of asthma medicines and treatments are:
- Quick-relief medicines – medicines that work rapidly to relieve abrupt symptoms. These are taken as needed, usually at the first appearance of signs. Commonly used drug classes include:
- Short-acting beta-agonists
- Oral corticosteroids
- Anticholinergic and a short-acting beta-agonist
- Controller medicines – medicines that help manage asthma by correcting the changes in the airways, such as swelling and excessive mucus. These can be one type or a combination of medicines. Some of the common drug and drug classes include:
- Inhaled corticosteroids
- Inhaled long-acting beta-agonists
- Leukotriene modifiers
- Combinations of quick-relief and controller medicines – medicines that are used for both short-term relief and maintenance. These are the most common drugs prescribed for asthma management.
- Biologics – this type of treatment aims at a cell or protein to prevent swelling inside the airways. They are specially indicated for people with certain types of persistent asthma and are mainly given by injection or infusion. Some of the drugs include:
Biologics and surgical intervention are often reserved for asthma not responding to the first three classes of drugs.
What are different ways to take asthma medications?
The different ways in which asthma medication is administered include:
- Inhalers: the most common and effective way to deliver asthma medication. They are a medical device that delivers medicine straight to your lungs. This medication is mostly in the form of a mist or spray that the person breathes in. Unlike a tablet or syrup, inhalers deliver the medicine straight to the lungs. Devices come in the following three forms:
- Metered-dose inhalers
- Dry powder inhalers
- Soft mist inhalers
- Nebulizers: prescribed for patients having difficulty using small inhalers. Nebulizers are an ideal option for infants, young children and older adults as it has a mouthpiece and masks.
- Injectables: Biologics are usually given via shots or infusions every few weeks. Shots are given via an auto-injector device and may be administered at the doctor’s office or at home, while infusions are only given at the doctor’s office.
- Oral: some drugs may need to be administered orally for better control of the condition.
What are the side effects of asthma medications?
Like every medication, asthma medicine may cause some side effects, which includes:
- Fine tremors in hand
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Fungal infection of the airways if the patient does not rinse after using steroid inhalers
What are other ways of controlling asthma?
Medicine alone cannot completely manage asthma. Hence, it is important to try alternative ways to control your condition effectively, which may include:
- Avoiding asthma triggers to prevent exacerbations (You must find your triggers – cold air, stress, exercise, pollen, etc.).
- Improving indoor air quality to reduce your exposure to allergens (pollen, pet dander, mold, cockroach droppings, etc.) and irritants (particulate matter, exhaust from heaters, etc.).
- Making lifestyle modifications to manage your condition effectively (weight management, stress management, etc.)
- Undergoing an alternative therapy called bronchial thermoplasty will be suggested by your physician if medication is not enough to control your symptoms.
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