Common Medications and Treatments for Asthma

There are several different classes of drugs that treat asthma.

Asthma treatment is specific to each individual. Side effects and warnings must be taken into consideration.

 
Long Term Medication/Controllers

Taking a long-term medication is the best way to keep asthma until control on a daily basis and prevent serious attacks.

Drug Category How the Medication Works
Long Acting Beta Agonists  Contains adrenaline that keeps the breathing passages open for 12 hrs. or moreTypically inhaled
Inhaled Corticosteroid  Acts locally by concentrating their effects directly within breathing passages
Leukotriene  These oral medications inhibit the chemical substances that promote inflammatory response during acute attack.
Methylxanthines  A long-acting bronchodilator

 
 
Quick Relief Medication/Rescue Medicines

Quick relief asthma medications provide just that: fast-acting relief from asthma symptoms. Yet, these medications should only be used occasionally. Talk to your doctor if you are using your inhaler more often than your doctor recommends.

Drug Category How the Medication Works
Short-acting beta-agonists Opens breathing passages in minutesThe effects usually last only 4 hours.
Anticholinergics Takes slightly longer than beta-agonists to achieve an effect, but has longer lasting relief.
Oral & Intravenous Corticosteroids Relieves airway inflammation caused by severe attacks

 
 
Allergic Asthma Medications

When asthma is caused by allergies, you may be prescribed different asthma medications to treat the allergy symptoms separately.

Drug Name How The Medication Works
Omalizumab Given by injection every 2-4 weeks, this drug works to change the immune system and help alleviate symptoms.
Cromolyn Sodium Generally inhaled before exposure of allergenDoes not work once an attack has begun

 

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