Asthma FAQ Part 2: Treatment, Common Asthma Medications & Your Lifestyle

A young woman, eyes closed, breathing.

Common asthma medications can be an important part of your asthma treatment plan. In our Asthma FAQ Part 1, you learned the steps to take to identify asthma symptoms so you could start a conversation with your doctor about diagnosis and management, including a prescription from a regulated pharmacy like Inhouse Pharmacy. Understanding treatment options is important in taking an active role in your healthcare, and these are a few of our most asked questions about controlling asthma’s effect on your life.

What is asthma control?

If your asthma is well controlled with common asthma medications then you should not have regular symptoms, reducing your risk of asthma attacks. This means that you should not regularly experience asthma breathing difficulties with symptoms including asthma wheezing, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath and a chronic asthma cough. If your asthma is well controlled, you should be using your reliever inhaler no more than three times a week for wheezing or breathlessness.

What makes some asthma cases worse than others?

Common asthma medications can help manage asthma, but dosages can vary based on how bad your asthma is. Not all asthma is the same, and there are degrees of severity with asthma symptoms that vary from mild and hardly noticeable to very severe and difficult to control. You also may have symptoms constantly or just when triggered by certain environmental factors like cold or stress. If you have allergic asthma, than anything that triggers an allergic response like exposure to pollen, house dust mites or animal fur can make your asthma worse. If you have non-allergic asthma anything that is an irritant to sensitive airways can make asthma worse, such as chemicals or cigarette smoke. You will soon learn what makes your asthma worse and how to manage your asthma symptoms by avoiding your triggers along with using the right medication.

Treatments for Asthma

What are some common asthma medications?

Since asthma cannot be prevented or cured, asthma medications have been developed to manage and control symptoms for asthma. There are essentially two types of asthma medications that are used to treat the disease through different mechanisms.

  • A preventer helps reduce inflammation of the airways and prevent symptoms developing. It is a long-term treatment that’s taken regularly.
  • A reliever provides asthma relief and should be taken only when needed to help make breathing easier.

The asthma products you are given depend on your age, symptoms, severity of your asthma, and any side effects you may have from asthma drugs.

What is the difference between asthma medications?

Each type of the common asthma medications has a specific role to play in managing asthma, controlling symptoms of asthma and providing asthma relief. You may be taking one or more different asthma medications, depending on what causes your asthma and how mild or severe your symptoms are. Most asthma medications are inhaled, using one of many different inhalation devices.

For long-term asthma management, you will have a preventer inhaler, which usually contains steroids to treat inflammation of the airways that is the underlying cause of asthma. A reliever inhaler is a bronchodilator, usually a rapid but short-acting beta agonist that opens up the airways to make it easier to breathe. A longer-acting bronchodilator medication is sometimes used to control symptoms in addition to a preventer, but it does not act fast enough to give relief from asthma attacks. Other oral medications are available, like the steroid prednisone for short-term treatment of severe asthma episodes.

Can other medications make my asthma worse?

Some medicines can bring on symptoms of asthma or make your asthma worse. Common medications used for relief of pain and inflammation like aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen. Also beta-blockers like propranolol and atenolol for high blood pressure and heart disease. If you notice that you are wheezing and having difficulty breathing after taking any medications, tell your doctor as you may be allergic to that medication.

A package featuring a CFC-Free asthma inhaler.

When do I need a reliever?

You should use an asthma reliever medication, such as Ventolin if your symptoms become worse. This provides rapid, short-term asthma relief from symptoms of asthma. One of the most common asthma medications, a reliever is also used during asthma attacks to make it easier to breathe. It works as a bronchodilator by relaxing the muscles in the airways, allowing them to widen. You should not be using your reliever inhaler more than 3-4 times a week, as this indicates that your asthma is not well controlled.

When do I need a preventer?

A preventer medication, like Beclazone, is used to treat inflammation of the airways. These are usually asthma steroids that take a few weeks to work by dampening down the inflammatory reaction in the airways. A preventer must be used regularly, usually twice daily, to help with managing symptoms so that chronic asthma can be better controlled. You may also use a reliever if your symptoms get worse, but it should only be used when needed for asthma relief.

Why is asthma medicine inhaled?

Inhalers are some of the most common asthma medications because they deliver medication directly into your airways as you inhale air into your lungs, which means it can start working quickly where it is needed without being circulated around the body and processed or metabolized by the liver. This also means that the effect of the medication is more specific to the airways, and therefore there are usually fewer side effects.

How do inhalers for asthma work?

There are several different types of asthma inhaler device which can be used to deliver your asthma medication directly into your airways, using different delivery mechanisms. A metered-dose inhaler (MDI), also known as an aerosol inhaler or puffer, produces an aerosol, using a propellant gas, as a single metered dose when you press down on the canister. A dry powder inhaler releases your asthma medication as a dry powder which is released automatically when you take a deep breath through the mouthpiece after you have actuated the inhaler device. As a whole, inhalers are the most recognizable and common asthma medications.

What is a CFC-free inhaler?

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) are organic compounds that were widely used as a propellant gas for metered-dose inhalers (MDI) to produce an aerosol for inhalation. These CFCs are known to have a damaging effect on the Earth’s ozone layer and are being phased out. Instead, non-CFC gasses are being used for asthma inhalers. A CFC-free inhaler contains the same medication as a non-CFC-free inhaler, but the propellant gas that is used to form the aerosol or “puff” when you press down on the canister is different. It may taste slightly different but works in the same way.

What is the difference between an inhaler and an Accuhaler?

An Accuhaler is a type of inhaler device that delivers your asthma medication directly into the small airways of your lungs as a dry powder without the need for a propellant. It comprises a molded plastic device with a foil blister strip that contains the medication used for treating asthma as a dry powder instead of as a solution and delivers a single dose when you activate the inhaler. An accuhaler can be used for most asthma preventer and reliever medications.

Safe, Effective Prescription Medications

As a regulated pharmacy in the nation of Vanuatu, Inhouse Pharmacy is able to deliver you the same prescription medications online for a fraction of the cost. This can save you money on medications for chronic conditions, including the most common asthma medications used to treat asthma signs and symptoms discussed in Asthma FAQ Part 1. Make sure you’re getting the asthma treatment you need for a fair price. Order your prescription from InhousePharmacy.vu today.

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