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Asthma Medications and Treatments

The drugs currently used by asthma doctors for the treatments of asthma exacerbation and prevent future attacks can be can be divided into two groups

  • Medications used for the quick relief of an asthmatic attack
  • Medications used for long-term control of asthma symptoms

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Short-acting Beta-adrenergic agonists

They include drugs such as Albuterol and Terbutaline They work by causing dilation of bronchioles through stimulation of beta-adrenergic receptors. They can be given in the form of Nebulizer or an Inhaler. Research indicates that the efficacy of inhaler for the quick relief of asthma symptoms is comparable to that of a nebulizer, although nebulizer is much easy for the patient to use.

The most commonly noticed side effect associated with the use of asthma medications and treatments is tremors. They can also exaggerate conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, as well as pre-existing cardiovascular disorders.

Corticosteroids

They include drugs such as Prednisone and Methylprednisolone. They work by relieving the inflammations associated with asthma. They could be given either in intravenous, oral or inhaled forms according to the patient requirements.

Anti-cholinergic drugs

They include drugs such as Ipratropium bromide and Tiotropium. They work by inhibiting the action of acetylcholine, a chemical substance involved in the constriction of bronchiolar smooth muscles. The efficacy of anticholinergic drugs is low as compared to the Beta-adrenergic agonists and they require more time to achieve desired effects. They are however of particular significance in patients with heart diseases.

Asthma Medications and Treatments used for long-term management.

The long term management of asthma is aimed to prevent future attacks of asthma. The medications used for this purpose include

Inhaled Corticosteroids

The mainstay medications for the long term control of asthma are inhaled corticosteroids that are used daily. They include drugs such as Fluticasone, Budesonide, Mometasone, and Beclomethasone. They work by decreasing the underlying inflammation of the airways.  The most common side effects noticed with the use of inhaled steroids are oral thrush and a nasty taste that can even lead to discontinuation of the medication. These problems can be successfully addressed simply by washing the mouth with water after use of an inhaler.

Steroids are notorious for a number of lethal side effects and most patients are reluctant to use inhaled steroids. The truth is that the risk of side effects with the inhaled steroids is very low as compared to the oral form and you must use them as directed by the physician.

Mast Cell Stabilizers

They include drugs such as Cromolyn and Nedocromil. They work by decreasing the release of chemical mediators from the specialized inflammatory cells called mast cells. They are of particular importance in the prevention of asthma in children.

Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists

They include medications such as Zafirlukast and Montelukast. They work by inhibiting the action of Leukotrienes, specialized chemical mediators involved in the causation of asthma. They are used when asthma cannot be treated with a maximum dose of inhaled corticosteroids.

Beta Agonists:

Beta-agonists are used as needed. They could be short acting as well as long acting. A short-acting beta agonist requires frequent dosing and is not suitable for the management of nighttime asthma symptoms. This problem can be overcome by using long-acting beta-agonists.

Theophylline

Theophylline works by causing relaxation of bronchial smooth muscles as well as enhancing the activity of diaphragm and other respiratory muscles. The risk of rhythm disturbances of the heart associated with the use of Theophylline has limited its use.

Do you suffer from asthma? Come to Century Medical and Dental Center (Downtown Brooklyn, Gravesend, and Flatbush) to discuss treatment methods.

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