If you or a loved one has asthma, it’s important that you know about the most effective asthma treatments for short-term relief and long-term control. Understanding asthma treatments will enable you to work with your asthma doctor to confidently manage your asthma symptoms daily.
When you do have an asthma attack or asthma symptoms, it’s important to know when to call your doctor or asthma specialist to prevent an asthma emergency. Be sure to read all the in-depth articles that link to topics within each of the following sections. By doing so, you will gain new insight into asthma and how it’s treated.
Asthma medications can save your life -- and let you live an active life in spite of your asthma. There are two basic types of drugs used in asthma treatment:
Steroids and Other Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Anti-inflammatory drugs, particularly inhaled steroids, are the most important treatment for most people with asthma. These lifesaving medications prevent asthma attacks and work by reducing swelling and mucus production in the airways. As a result, the airways are less sensitive and less likely to react to asthma triggers and cause asthma symptoms.
Bronchodilators and Asthma
Bronchodilators relieve the symptoms of asthma by relaxing the muscle bands that tighten around the airways.
Asthma inhalers are the most common and effective way to deliver asthma drugs to the lungs. There are some combination asthma inhalers, which contain two different medications: an inhaled steroid and a long-acting bronchodilator. These combination asthma inhalers are popular due to their convenience, and the medications last for at least 12 hours.
For in-depth information, see WebMD's article on Asthma Inhalers.
If you’re having difficulty using small inhalers, your doctor may prescribe an asthma nebulizer, also known as a breathing machine. The asthma nebulizer with a mask is typically used for infants, small children, elderly adults, or anyone who has difficulty using inhalers with spacers. The nebulizer changes asthma medications from a liquid to a mist, so that they can be more easily inhaled into the lungs. This takes a few more minutes of time when compared to inhalers.
Prednisone and Asthma Attacks
If you have a serious asthma attack (exacerbation), your doctor may prescribe prednisone pills for five to 14 days. Prednisone (or prednisolone) is the most effective asthma medication available, but does cause side effects. When used for less than two weeks, these side effects are only temporary, but when used for many months, these side effects can be serious and permanent. After the severe symptoms of your asthma attack have been successfully treated, your doctor will work with you to minimize your need for prednisone in the future. Faithfully taking an inhaled corticosteroid every day is the most commonly successful method to do this.
Talk to Your Asthma Specialist
If you have been diagnosed with asthma but your treatment no longer seems to work, then it’s time to check in with your doctor again. There are many new asthma treatments. Finding a new medication or new method of delivery will help you breathe better and allow you to be active again. Likewise, if you’ve been diagnosed with asthma and you have symptoms that require you to use your asthma rescue inhaler too frequently, go see your asthma doctor. You may need a different asthma medication to decrease inflammation. Your doctor can determine the problem -- and solution -- so you feel better and breathe right.
While asthma is a common disease, it's also very serious breathing problem that demands a proper medical diagnosis and targeted asthma treatment. Get help for asthma. Talk to your doctor for asthma support and find the right asthma drugs that work best for you.