There are two main types of medicines for asthma:
* Quick-relief medicines - These are taken at the first signs of asthma symptoms for immediate relief of these symptoms. You will feel the effects of these medicines within minutes. Examples of medications used for quick relief include:
o short-acting beta-2 agonists
o oral and/or intravenous corticosteroids
* Long-term control medicines - These are taken every day, usually over long periods of time, to prevent symptoms and asthma episodes or attacks. You will feel the full effects of these medicines after taking them for a few weeks. Examples of medications used for long term control include:
o inhaled corticosteroids
o long-acting beta-2 agonists
o leukotriene modifiers
o other types of medications including cromolyn, nedocromil, or theophylline
anti-inflammatories such as corticosteroids, work to keep air tubes open, thereby preventing an asthma episode from happening in the first place. Anti-inflammatories can be inhaled, or administered in oral or intravenous (IV) form. Inhaled corticosteroids are generally used for long-term control, and can take several weeks to start taking effect. Oral or IV corticosteroids provide faster relief, but are generally reserved for quick-relief emergency treatment. in some people, high oral corticosteroid usage can reduce bone-mineral density, leading to osteoporosis. Links have been found between steroid use and inhibiting bone formation, calcium absorption and the production of sex hormones that help keep bones vital. You should discuss potential risks and benefits with your doctor.
Another category of drug is called bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are medicines that open up the small airways of the lungs to make it easier to breathe. Bronchodilators are often inhaled; they include beta agonists, anticholinergic drugs and theophylline. There are both quick-relief bronchodilators and long-term control bronchodilators. that if someone with asthma finds themselves relying on increasing use of short-acting bronchodilators, however, they should talk with their doctor about ways to better control the asthma. Due to environmental concerns, metered dose inhalers with chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellant have been phased out in the United States. There are many other inhalers available that do not contain CFCs. For example, the Food and Drug there are inhalers that use the propellant hydrofluoroalkane, or HFA. There are also dry powder inhalers that don't use a propellant at all, and liquids that are used with a nebulizer machine. Talk to your healthcare professional to decide which choice is right for you. A doctor can also show a patient how to use devices such as a peak flow meter to monitor the severity of their disease. It's also essential that anyone with asthma talk with their doctor about recognizing important warning signs and knowing when an attack requires emergency medical help.
For some adults with severe asthma, a procedure using radiofrequency energy may help reduce inflammation of smooth muscle in the airways to improve their ability to breathe.
For allergy-induced asthma, immunotherapy may be an option. There is also a biotechnology product to treat patients with a type of asthma related to allergies. While the cause for many forms of asthma is unclear, asthma caused by allergies is better understood. It results from the immune system's over-reaction to inhaled allergens such as dust mites or animal dander. The body forms antibodies in response to the allergen and this immune system reaction prompts inflammation causing airway narrowing and other symptoms. The newest drug is a genetically engineered protein that blocks this immune response.