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Asthma Treatments & Medications

Man treats his asthma symptoms with inhalerAlthough much of asthma treatment is prescribed and monitored by health professionals, a large portion of it rests in the hands of the patients.  Since asthma is a common medical condition, it is important to recognize the symptoms of an impending asthma attack in order to stop an attack before it takes place.

It is up to the patients to use their inhalers and take their medications.  Asthma patients have the most critical role in treating their own disease.

(If you have been diagnosed with asthma, then you may be interested in our asthma clinical Trial in Birmingham, AL.)

There are three primary steps in treating asthma:

  1. Providing quick relief for current urgent symptoms and asthma attacks
  2. Taking long-term control of the disease with medication and other approaches
  3. Preventing future asthma attacks

The right medications for you depend on a number of things, including your age, your symptoms, your asthma triggers and what seems to work best to keep your asthma under control. Preventive, long-term control medications reduce the inflammation in your airways that leads to symptoms. Quick-relief inhalers (bronchodilators) quickly open swollen airways that are limiting breathing. In some cases, allergy medications are necessary.

Long-Term Asthma Medications

These are a cornerstone of modern asthma treatment. If you been diagnosed with this condition, here’s what you need to know:

  • They’re usually taken once a day
  • Used to control your symptoms on a daily basis
  • Help reduce your risk of future asthma attacks

The following are common types of long-term asthma treatments:

Inhaled Corticosteroids

Have you been prescribed inhaled corticosteroids for your asthma symptoms? Here’s what you should know about this asthma treatment:

  • They’re anti-inflammatory medication (work to reduce swelling in your airways)
  • They reduce the amount of mucus produced in the airways
  • Make the airways less likely to react to your asthma triggers
  • Can take a few weeks to start working

The following are types of inhaled corticosteroids:

  • Fluticasone
  • Budesonide
  • Mometasone
  • Ciclesonide
  • Flunisolide
  • Beclomethasone

Leukotriene Modifiers

Have you been prescribed leukotriene modifiers for your asthma? Here’s what you should know:

  • They can help clear away mucus from your lungs
  • These asthma treatments relax the muscle around the airways
  • They can provide symptom relief for a full 24 hours

The following are types of leukotriene modifiers:

  • Montelukast
  • Zafirlukast
  • Zileuton
  • Bronchodilators

Side effects are rare, but reported ones include:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations

Long-Acting Beta Agonists

This type of medication is used to open the airways and reduce inflammation caused by asthma.

Clinical research suggests that these asthma treatments can increase the risk of severe attacks if taken for an extended period of time. Your doctor will likely prescribe beta agonists in combination with an inhaled corticosteroid.

The following are types of long-acting beta agonists:

  • Salmeterol
  • Formoterol

Combination Inhalers

The following are types of combination inhalers:

  • Fluticasone-salmeterol
  • Budesonide-formoterol
  • Mometasone-formoterol
  • Combination of a long-acting beta agonist and a corticosteroid


Have you been prescribed theophylline recently? Here are a few things that you should know:

  • Theophylline can be taken in pill form
  • Bronchodilator
  • This type of asthma treatment relaxes the airway muscles
  • It also helps to clear away excess mucus from the lungs

The following are types of theophylline:

  • Theo-24
  • Elixophyllin

Quick-Relief (Rescue) Medications

This type of asthma treatment can provide more immediate relief and even rescue during an asthma attack.

The following are common types of quick-relief medications:

 Short-acting beta agonists

  • Taken via inhaler or nebulizer
  • Quick-relief bronchodilators
  • Relax smooth muscle around the airways to open the airways
  • Help clear away mucous from the lungs

The following are types of short-acting beta agonists:

  • Albuterol
  • Levalbuterol
  • Pirbuterol


Here are some quick facts about ipratropium:

  • It’s marketed as Atrovent
  • Quick-relief bronchodilator
  • Relax smooth muscle around the airways to open the airways
  • Help clear away mucous from the lungs
  • Usually used to treat emphysema and chronic bronchitis

Oral and intravenous corticosteroids

Here are some quick facts about corticosteroids as a treatment for asthma:

  • They’re an anti-inflammatory medication
  • Corticosteroids reduce swelling in the airways
  • They reduce mucus production in the airways
  • They make airways less likely to react to asthma triggers
  • They can cause serious side effects when used long term, so only use corticosteroids for short-term rescue to treat severe asthma symptoms

The following are types of corticosteroids:

  • Prednisone
  • Methylprednisolone

Talk with your doctor about which asthma treatments are best for you.  Notify your doctor when you develop symptoms of an asthma attack and remember to take your long-term medications daily to prevent attacks and worsening of your asthma.

Asthma medications are relatively harmless and work successfully in treating asthma symptoms and preventing future asthma attacks.  Take your medications and follow your doctor’s orders so that you can live a more active life with easier breathing and more energy.