Today, there are a variety of medicines and treatment options available for treating asthma. They come as tablets, inhalers, liquids, and injections. Most of them come as powder or spray that is to be inhaled into your lungs. Some medicines reduce the swelling in the airways whereas others relax your airways to help you breathe in an easier manner. For each individual, the asthma medications vary according to their condition. Consulting a doctor or a healthcare team will help you to diagnose the best medication plan for you based on your symptoms.
The muscles around the breathing tube are relaxed when bronchodilators are used. It is easier to breathe when the airways are more relaxed and open. There are two types of bronchodilators: short-acting and the long-acting. You will get the relief very fast when you use the former one. Though the latter one’s effect lasts longer, they shouldn’t be used for quick relief. They should be used only by combining it with anti-inflammatory asthma medicine.
As the name suggests, these reduce the inflammation inside the breathing tube. These produce mucus inside the airways and also reduce the swelling. When the swelling is reduced, breathing becomes easier. These are also known as corticosteroids or steroids. These asthma medications are to be inhaled. It is recommended to wash your mouth immediately after inhaling them as this may result in a yeast infection in your throat. These corticosteroids also come in the form of pills and are often used for a short period of time when the symptom gets worse.
For a long-term control, these should be taken combined with an inhaled corticosteroid. This category of asthma medications helps in preventing muscle bands from tightening around the airways. A metered-dose inhaler is used for inhaling this kind of medicine. If you are suffering from a cough, excess mucus production, chest tightness or wheeze, this is usually added to the treatment plan.
Usually, people diagnosed with asthma will have flare-ups because of bacterial or viral infection. Doctors may prescribe antibiotic or anti-viral asthma medications in such cases. Make sure to take all the medicines as prescribed even if you get relief before you complete the full course. The infection may hit you again if you stop without completing the course.
These bronchodilators which come in the form of pills have anti-inflammatory effects. As these asthma medications require close monitoring, they are not prescribed often. One should make sure that the amount of medicine used stays within a narrow range. Otherwise, it will put you in high risk of getting heart arrhythmias and seizures if the amount goes above the range. A headache, nausea, vomiting, and lack of sleep are some of its side effects.
Immunomodulators or the Biologics
These asthma medications block the substances that cause the asthma attacks by entering the immune system. These are prescribed to people for whom other medications don’t have any effect on controlling their asthma. This medication also comes with some side effects such as tiredness, headache, infections, injection site reaction, muscle, and joint pains. It can also have serious side effects like hypersensitivity, including anaphylaxis, heart attack, stroke or bronchospasm.
Therapies for severe asthma
There are several approved asthma medications available for severe conditions of asthma. Further, there are different types of airway inflammation in asthma-like eosinophilic asthma or allergic asthma. There are therapies targeted to each individual subgroup or the phenotypes of asthma. These are monitored by a doctor or a healthcare team once a month, either by a shot or IV.
These are battery powered or plug-in devices that will turn the liquid medicines of asthma into a mist and make it easier to inhale. These are highly recommended for kids as they are automatic. Usually, it takes around 5 to 10 minutes to breathe in the mist. The main drawback about nebulizers is that they are bulky, loud, and hence, less portable. Also, they need a power source.
These are commonly prescribed asthma medications. They contain a combination of a LABA and a corticosteroid. Budesonide and formoterol (Symbicort), fluticasone and salmeterol (Advair Diskus) are available. The main side effects of this are throat infections and headaches. They also exhibit severe side effects very rarely such as an increase in the blood pressure, bronchospasm, and heart arrhythmias
So, as you see, there are different types and forms of asthma medications available today. Depending on your age, triggers, lifestyle, the severity etc., the type of medication and the method of taking it will vary. Always make sure to be up to date with the medications. It is better to consult a doctor regularly and discuss how each medication works for you. Rather than trying out the best medication on your own, approach a doctor and tailor the medication plan as the doctor suggests.