Asthma in Children - Medications
Medicine does not cure
asthma. But it is an important part of managing the
condition. Medicines for asthma treatment are used to:
- Prevent and control the airway
inflammation to minimize long-term lung
- Decrease the severity, frequency, and duration of
- Treat the attacks as they
Asthma medicines are divided into two groups: those for
prevention and long-term control of inflammation and those that provide quick
relief for asthma attacks. Most children with persistent asthma need to use
long-term medicines daily. Quick-relief medicines are used as needed and
provide rapid relief of symptoms during asthma attacks.
Most medicines for asthma are
inhaled, because a specific dose of the medicine can
be given directly to the bronchial tubes. Delivery systems include metered-dose and dry powder
nebulizers. A metered-dose inhaler is used most
Many doctors recommend that every child who uses a
metered-dose inhaler (MDI) also use a
spacer , which is attached to the MDI. A spacer may
deliver the medicine to your child's lungs better than an inhaler alone. And
for many people a spacer is easier to use than an MDI alone. Using a spacer
corticosteroids can help reduce their side effects and
the need for oral corticosteroids.
For more information on using an inhaler, see:
- Asthma: Using a Metered-Dose Inhaler.
- Asthma in Children: Helping a Child Use a Metered-Dose Inhaler and Mask Spacer.
- Asthma: Using a Dry Powder Inhaler.
The most important asthma
Long-term medicines sometimes used alone or with other
medicines for daily treatment include:
Other medicines may be given in some cases.
- Anticholinergics (such as ipratropium) are usually
used for severe asthma attacks.
- Other medicine such as
omalizumab or magnesium sulfate may be used if asthma
does not improve with treatment.
Medicine treatment for asthma depends on your child?s
age, his or her type of asthma, and how well the treatment is controlling
- Children up to age 4 are usually treated a
little differently than those 5 to 11 years old.
- The least amount
of medicine that controls your child?s symptoms is used.
- The amount
of medicine and number of medicines are increased in steps. So if your child?s
asthma is not controlled at a low dose of one controller medicine, the dose may
be increased. Or another medicine may be added.
- If your child?s
asthma has been under control for several months at a certain dose of medicine,
the dose may be reduced. This can help find the least amount of medicine that
will control your child?s asthma.
- Quick-relief medicine is used to
treat asthma attacks. But if your child needs to use quick-relief medicine a
lot, the amount and number of controller medicines may be changed.