Asthma in Teens and Adults - Treatment Overview
asthma cannot be cured, you can manage the symptoms
with medicines, especially inhaled corticosteroids and beta2-agonists. You will
probably work with your doctor to develop an asthma action plan. This plan will
help you meet
treatment goals and get your asthma under control. The
goals of asthma treatment are to:19
- Prevent symptoms.
- Keep your peak
flow and lung function as close to normal as possible.
- Be able to
do your normal daily activities, including work, school, exercise, and
- Prevent asthma attacks.
- Have few or no side
effects from medicine.
For more information, see:
- Asthma: Taking Charge of Your Asthma.
If you have a severe asthma
red zone of your asthma action plan), use medicine based on your
action plan and talk with a doctor immediately about
what to do next. This is especially important if your
peak expiratory flow (PEF) does not return to the
green zone or stays within the
yellow zone after you take medicine. You may have to
go to the hospital or an emergency room for treatment. Be sure to tell the
emergency staff if you are pregnant.
At the hospital, you will
probably receive inhaled beta2-agonists and
corticosteroids. You may be given
oxygen therapy. Your lung function and condition will
be assessed. Depending on your response, further treatment in the emergency
room or a stay in the hospital may be needed.
Some people are
at increased risk of death from asthma, such as people
who have been admitted to an intensive care unit for asthma or who have needed
a breathing tube (intubation) for asthma. These people need to seek medical
care early when they have symptoms.
You need to
monitor your asthma and have regular checkups to keep
it under control and to ensure correct treatment. Checkups are recommended
every 1 to 6 months, depending on how well your asthma is controlled.
During checkups, your doctor will ask whether your symptoms and
peak expiratory flow have held steady, improved, or
become worse and will ask about asthma attacks during exercise or at night. You
track this information in an
asthma diary. You may be asked to bring your inhaler
peak expiratory flow meter to an appointment so your
doctor can see how you use them.
There are many components to
asthma. After your diagnosis, your doctor may only
discuss what you need to know immediately. These include:
- Oral or injected corticosteroids
(systemic corticosteroids). These medicines may be used to get your asthma
under control before you start taking daily medicine. In the future, you also
may take oral or injected corticosteroids to treat any sudden and severe
symptoms (asthma attacks), such as shortness of breath. Oral
corticosteroids are used more than injected corticosteroids.
Oral corticosteroids include prednisone and
- Inhaled corticosteroids. These are the preferred
medicines for long-term treatment of asthma. They reduce the
inflammation of your airways, and you take them every
day to keep asthma under control and to prevent asthma attacks. Inhaled
corticosteroids include mometasone, triamcinolone, fluticasone, budesonide, and
- Short-acting beta2-agonists. These medicines are used
for asthma attacks. They relax the airways, which allows you to breathe easier.
Short-acting beta2-agonists include albuterol and pirbuterol.
combination of an inhaled corticosteroid and
long-acting beta2-agonist. This combination is often
used to treat persistent asthma.
education about asthma. The more you know about
asthma, the more likely it is you will control symptoms and reduce the risk of
asthma attacks. Keep in mind that even severe asthma can be controlled. And
cases where the condition cannot be controlled are unusual.
- Instruction on how to use a metered-dose
inhaler (MDI) or dry powder inhaler (DPI). Inhalers
deliver medicine directly to the lungs. If you use your inhaler correctly, you
can control your symptoms and avoid asthma attacks that can send you to the
emergency room. Most doctors recommend using a
spacer with an MDI. For more information, see:
- Asthma: Using a Metered-Dose Inhaler.
- Asthma: Using a Dry Powder Inhaler.