Asthma treatments help you get your disease under control, so you can prevent symptoms, stay active, and breathe easier each day.
If your symptoms flare up from time to time, there are plenty of medicines that may bring you relief.
Each case of asthma is different. The right medication for you will depend on what causes your condition and how serious it is.
There are two main types of medication for asthma:
- Long-term controllers work over time to stop symptoms, lessen swelling in your airways, and relax the muscle bands around them.
- Quick-relievers, also known as “rescue” medicine, give fast relief when symptoms flare up.
You take most asthma medications with an inhaler, a device that allows the medicine to go straight to your lungs. Some people need allergy medicine, too.
You’ll probably need to take one of these daily medicines if you have symptoms more than twice a week. They come in two forms: anti-inflammatory drugs and bronchodilators.
Anti-inflammatory medicines make it easier to breathe by reducing swelling in your airways and how much mucus they make. Your doctor may suggest a few different types:
- Inhaled corticosteroids, like beclomethasone (Qvar), budesonide (Pulmicort), flunisolide (Aerobid), fluticasone (Flovent HFA), and mometasone (Asmanex). They prevent symptoms, rather than relieving them after they start. If your child has asthma, your doctor will most likely recommend this type of medicine for him. It might slow your child’s growth a little, but so can asthma that isn’t under control. Doctors believe the help people get from the medication outweighs the risk of its side effects.
- Cromolyn sodium stops airways from swelling when you come into contact with your triggers.
- Montelukast (Singulair), zafirlukast (Accolate) and zileuton (Zyflo CR ) are pills that turn down the effects of chemicals your body makes, called leukotrienes, which can make your airways swell and make more mucus.
You take bronchodilators along with anti-inflammatory medicines. They help you breathe by relaxing the muscles around your airways. They include:
- Inhaled long-acting beta2-agonists, such as formoterol (Foradil) and salmeterol (Serevent). They can be helpful if you have nighttime asthma or symptoms when you exercise. You take this type of medication only with inhaled corticosteroids.
- Combination inhalers have both a bronchodilator and a corticosteroid. Examples include fluticasone and salmeterol (Advair Diskus), budesonide and formoterol (Symbicort), and formoterol and mometasone (Dulera).
- Theophylline (Elixophyllin, Theo-24, Uniphyl)is a daily pill that helps with severe asthma. It can help nighttime asthma. Your doctor may give you regular blood tests to make sure you have the right amount of the drug in your blood.