Types of Asthma Treatment
Prevention and long-term control is the key to preventing asthma attacks. The first step in treating the asthma is learning to recognize your triggers and taking steps to avoid them. It’s also important to “track” your breathing, or take note of your breathing patterns when your physician has prescribed new medication for you. Remember, there’s more than one way to provide asthma treatment. For example, if a patient is diagnosed with exercise induced asthma, that particular patient may have a physician’s order not to over exert oneself. Furthermore, asthma medication is divided into two categories:
- Quick relief or “rescue” asthma treatment medication
- Controller asthma medication
Quick Relief Asthma Treatment
Quick-relief asthma medication treats acute asthma symptoms such as, shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness in the chest. Quick-relief or “rescue” asthma treatment medications are used by patients as needed for short-term symptom relief during an asthma attack or before exercise if your doctor recommends it. Types of asthma treatment medications include:
- Short-acting beta agonists (SABA) – These inhaled, “rescue” bronchodilators can rapidly ease symptoms during an asthma attack. They act within minutes and the effects last several hours.
- Ipratropium (Atrovent) – This type of asthma treatment is also inhaled for immediate relief of asthma symptoms. Ipratropium relaxes the airways, making it easier to breathe. Ipratropium is mostly used for emphysema and chronic bronchitis, but it’s sometimes used to treat asthma attacks.
- Oral and intravenous corticosteroids – This type of asthma treatment medication relieve airway inflammation caused by severe asthma. They can cause serious side effects if used long term, so they’re used only on a short-term basis to treat patients with severe asthma symptoms.
Controller (Long-Term) Asthma Treatment Medication
In most cases, long-term asthma treatment medications need to be taken every day. The most common types of long-term asthma treatments are:
- Inhaled corticosteroids – These medications are the most commonly prescribed type of long-term asthma treatment medication, and may take several days or weeks before they reach their maximum benefit. Corticosteroids have a relatively low risk of side effects.
- Leukotriene modifiers – This type of asthma treatment medication can help prevent asthma symptoms for up to 24 hours. In some extremely rare cases, these medications have been linked to psychological reactions; therefore, seek medical advice right away for any unusual reaction.
- Long-acting beta agonists (LABA). LABAs open the airways and reduce inflammation in the airways. LABAs should be taken only in combination with an inhaled corticosteroid.
- Combination inhalers – These medications contain a LABA along with a corticosteroid. Like other LABA medications, these medications may increase your risk of having a severe asthma attack; therefore, it’s very important to follow your allergist’s orders.
- Theophylline – This is a daily pill that helps keep the airways open (bronchodilator). Theophylline relaxes the muscles around the airways to make breathing easier.
Asthma Treatment for Exercise Induced Asthma
For treatment, exercise induced asthma (EIA) patients are given two puffs from an Albuterol inhaler 10-15 minutes before exercising to prevent difficulty breathing. We advise our patients who have EIA to warm-up before running fast and to cool-down after finishing exercising. Certain patients require more than one type of asthma treatment medication to control the EIA from occurring.
The good news is that 16% of the American Olympic team athletes have asthma or EIA, and yet 57% of them have won medals compared to 43% who do not have asthma or EIA. Way to go asthma patients! Good luck to every asthmatic and athlete.
Whether you need long-term asthma treatment, short-term asthma treatment, or a combination of both, we’re always happy and willing to assist you in controlling your asthma symptoms.