Updated: November 24, 2017
There is no cure for asthma, but symptoms can be controlled with effective asthma treatment and management. This involves taking your medications as directed and learning to avoid triggers that cause your asthma symptoms. You can track your breathing to make sure your daily asthma medications are keeping symptoms under control. In case of an asthma flare-up, you may need to use a quick-relief inhaler such as albuterol.
The right medications for you depend on your age, symptoms, asthma triggers and what works best to keep your asthma under control. The inflammation in your airways that leads to symptoms can be reduced by preventive, long-term control medications. Quick-relief inhalers quickly open swollen airways that are limiting breathing. Allergy medications are required in some cases.
These medications are generally taken daily to keep asthma under control on a day-to-day basis and thus will help prevent an asthma attack. Types of long-term control medications include:
These anti-inflammatory drugs include fluticasone, budesonide, flunisolide, ciclesonide, beclomethasone, mometasone and fluticasone furoate. These medicines have a relatively low risk of side effects and are generally safe for long-term use.
These are oral medications which includes montelukast, zafirlukast and zileuton. These can help relieve asthma symptoms for up to 24 hours. In rare cases, these medications have been linked to psychological reactions, such as agitation, aggression, hallucinations, depression and suicidal thinking.
These are inhaled medications, which include salmeterol and formoterol. These can open the airways. These can be taken in combination with an inhaled corticosteroid as there may be an increased the risk of a severe asthma attack if used alone.
These medications such as fluticasone-salmeterol, budesonide-formoterol and formoterol-mometasone contain a long-acting beta agonist along with a corticosteroid. Because these combination inhalers contain long-acting beta agonists, they may increase your risk of having a severe asthma attack.
Theophylline is a daily pill that helps keep the airways open by relaxing the muscles around the airways.
These medications are used as and when needed for rapid, short-term symptom relief during an asthma attack. These can also be used before exercise if your doctor recommends it. Types of quick-relief medications include:
These are inhaled medications which include include albuterol and levalbuterol. These quick-relief bronchodilators act within minutes to rapidly ease symptoms during an asthma attack. Short-acting beta agonists can be taken using a portable, hand-held inhaler or a nebulizer. Nebulizer is a machine that converts asthma medications to a fine mist, so that they can be inhaled through a face mask or a mouthpiece.
Ipratropium acts quickly to immediately relax your airways, making it easier to breathe.
These medications include prednisone and methylprednisolone which help relieve airway inflammation caused by severe asthma. They can cause serious side effects when used long term. So they are used only on a short-term basis to treat severe asthma symptoms.
A quick-relief inhaler can ease your symptoms right away if you have an asthma flare-up. But if your long-term control medications are working properly, you should not need to use your quick-relief inhaler very often.
If you need to use your quick-relief inhaler more often than your doctor recommends, you probably need to adjust your long-term control medication.
These medications will help if your asthma is triggered or worsened by allergies. These include:
Allergy shots gradually reduce your immune system reaction to specific allergens. These shots are given once a week for a few months, then once a month for a period of three to five years.
It acts by altering the immune system which are given as an given as an injection every two to four weeks, specifically for people who have allergies and severe asthma.
This treatment is used for severe asthma that does not improve with inhaled corticosteroids or other long-term asthma medications. Bronchial thermoplasty heats the insides of the airways in the lungs with an electrode, reducing the smooth muscle inside the airways.
This limits the ability of the airways to tighten, making breathing easier and possibly reducing asthma attacks.
You can track your asthma symptoms or use a peak flow meter on a regular basis to monitor how well your treatment is controlling your asthma.