Asthma Treatments: Medications and Their Effects

Remedies for Asthma reviews the various types of treatment available today for asthma, including the different asthma medication drug groups, how the medications work and any significant reactions or side effects of the drugs. It also looks at the day-to-day prevention of attacks and treatment of the condition with a particular emphasis on the use of inhalers and bronchodilators.

To learn more about treatment options that are specific to the severity of your asthma, see Asthma Treatment Options.

Medication Delivery Methods

Methods for administering asthma medications can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Oral: swallowed pills and liquids
  • Inhalation: via mouth or nose
  • Injection: into muscle or vein.

Available Asthma Treatments

Forms of medication and treatment vary according to the nature and severity of the asthma attack. Certain treatments, however, are typical.

  • Mild asthma attacks: Short-acting inhaled bronchodilators relieve symptoms.
  • Moderate to severe asthma attacks: A combination of bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs reduce constriction and inflammation of the airways.
  • Acute asthma attacks: A combination of bronchodilators, such as theophylline, and intravenous adrenalin (epinephrine) are used. The use of inhaled steroids (as opposed to oral steroids) is preferred.
  • Specific allergy-induced asthma attacks: Anti-allergic medication usually administered by injection desensitizes the asthmatic to the allergen.

How Asthma Treatments Work

Each of the asthma medications or treatments has a specific mode of action.

  • Bronchodilators relax the muscles surrounding the airways.’
  • Anti-inflammatory agents (steroids or corticosteroids) reduce the swelling and irritation in the airways.
  • Preventive asthma products, such as cromolyn sodium, control and prevent the onset of an asthma attack.
  • Adrenaline (epinephrine) is used in emergency situations to rapidly relax the muscles surrounding the airways.

Preventing Asthma Attacks

Asthmatics can rest assured that a treatment suitable to their condition is usually available. In fact, asthmatics have a wide range of products at their disposal that can effectively control their symptoms, often within seconds.

Advances in the range of asthma treatments are certainly encouraging. Most asthmatics, however, would prefer to avoid a lifetime of dependence upon medication at all! It makes sense, therefore, that prevention of triggers should be the first line of defense.

Knowledge of how to prevent or avoid asthma triggers is vital. If you are asthmatic, you should know:

  • The degree of severity of your attacks, and whether they’re stabilizing or deteriorating
  • If your prescribed medication is the most appropriate for your needs
  • If any changes in your condition might benefit from a different type of treatment.

Asthma Research Findings

A report in the British Medical Journal found that sixty percent of the 255 asthmatics who participated in a study failed to identify the critical point during an attack at which treatment (or further treatment) was required. Objective information using peak flow meters to measure airflow was compared with the participants’ subjective opinions about their breathing ability. The worrying conclusion was that most asthmatics, during recovery from a severe attack, believed that their condition had returned to normal, when in fact they were still in great danger.