Many people with asthma have sensitivities to certain medications that can trigger an asthma attack. If you have asthma, you need to be aware of what other medications may be triggers. You do not need to avoid these medications unless you know they are triggers. If they have never triggered your asthma, it is still best to take them with caution, because a reaction can occur at any time.
Below is a list of the most common medications known to trigger asthma or related symptoms. However, if you are prescribed any medication that you think may be causing your asthma to worsen, discuss it with your doctor.
When asthma symptoms appear and are diagnosed in adults older than age , it is typically known as adult-onset asthma. About half of adults who have asthma also have allergies. Adult-onset asthma also may be the result of commonplace irritants in the workplace (called occupational asthma) or home environments, and the asthma symptoms come on suddenly.
Aspirin and other painkillers. Approximately 10% to 20% of people with asthma have sensitivity to aspirin or a group of pain relievers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). These drugs are frequently used to treat pain and reduce fevers.
Asthma attacks caused by any of these medications can be severe and even fatal, so these drugs must be completely avoided in people who have known aspirin-sensitive asthma. While products with acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, are generally considered safe for people who have asthma, you should still discuss whether or not to use acetaminophen with your doctor. For some people there is a small possibility that acetaminophen may induce an asthma attack.
If you have an aspirin sensitivity, it is important that you read labels of all over-the-counter medications used to treat pain, colds and coughs, and fever. Also, inform your doctor so that these medications are not prescribed for you. If you have any questions whether a certain medication could trigger your asthma, seek advice from your health care provider.
Beta-blockers. Beta-blockers are commonly prescribed medications used to treat heart conditions, high blood pressure, migraine headache, and, in eye drop form, glaucoma. Your health care provider must determine the need for these medications, and you can take a few trial doses to see if they affect your asthma. It is important that you inform all of your health care providers that you have asthma. This includes even your eye doctor.
ACE inhibitors. These are other types of medications used to treat heart disease and high blood pressure. These medications can cause coughs in about 10% of the patients who use them. This cough is not necessarily asthma. But it can be confused with asthma or, in the case of unstable airways, can actually trigger wheeze and chest tightness. If you are prescribed an ace inhibitor and develop a cough, speak with your doctor.