Is There A Pill You Can Take for Asthma?
Asthma medications play a key role in taking control of your condition. Bronchial asthma is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of the airways that causes recurring symptoms: shortness of breath, coughing and mucus formation. Only suitable treatment will help to avoid attacks of suffocation and lead an active lifestyle.
Regretfully, there is no pill to take for asthma since this condition requires a complex approach, which consists of drug therapy and lifestyle changes.
What are the common drugs used to treat asthma?
Asthma medicines are aimed at:
- Controlling inflammation and preventing chronic symptoms such as coughing or suffocation at night, early morning hours or after exercise (therapy for long-term control);
- Relief of asthma attacks when they occur (emergency relief of symptoms).
There are two main types of medications for long-term disease control and quick relief of symptoms:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs. This is the most important type of therapy for patients with asthma since the drugs in this group are constantly working to prevent attacks. Steroids (or “corticosteroids”) are essential anti-inflammatory drugs for everyone with asthma. They reduce swelling and sputum formation in the airways. As a result, the respiratory tract becomes less sensitive and does not react so sharply to the effects of irritants;
- Bronchodilators. Asthma medications in this group relieve symptoms by relaxing the muscles of the bronchi that narrow the lumen of the airways. As a result, the lumen of the bronchi rapidly expands, contributing to the flow of large volumes of air into the lungs and vice versa. As a result, breathing improves. Bronchodilators also contribute to the release of sputum from the lungs. With the expansion of the lumen, sputum moves more freely and clears its throat more easily.
There are various options for prescribing these drugs. Treatment can be considered successful if you can lead a full, active life with it. If the manifestation of asthma symptoms cannot be controlled, consult a specialist for a new therapy that will bring the desired results.
Medications for long-term asthma control
Doctors and experts in the field of asthma identify two main elements of the disease: inflammation of the respiratory tract and acute bronchostenosis (narrowing of the lumen of the bronchi). Studies have shown that reducing and preventing further inflammatory processes is a necessary condition for preventing asthma attacks, hospitalization and death.
Drugs for long-term control of the disease are taken daily for a long time to achieve and maintain control of persistent bronchial asthma (symptoms of the disease manifest more than twice a week, and frequent attacks of suffocation affect activity).
The most effective drugs for long-term control are drugs that stop inflammation of the airways (anti-inflammatory drugs), but there are other medicines that are often used together with anti-inflammatory drugs to enhance the effect of the latter.
Medications for long-term asthma control include:
- Corticosteroids (drugs of choice for the treatment of persistent asthma, any drug in this group is taken in inhaled form);
- Long-acting beta-agonists (bronchodilators should only be used with anti-inflammatory drugs);
- Combined drugs (inhaled corticosteroids + long-acting beta-agonists – a modern class of drugs that can achieve asthma control when using a lower dose of steroids);
- Leukotriene modifiers (have a less pronounced anti-inflammatory effect than steroids);
- Theophyllines (a bronchodilator, used in combination with an anti-inflammatory drug, currently has limited use);
- Mast cell membrane stabilizers (mild anti-inflammatory drugs);
- Antibodies to immunoglobulin E (an injectable drug prescribed for patients with severe allergic asthma, which is not well controlled by the use of inhaled steroids).
Quick-relief asthma medicines
Medicines of this group are used to urgently relieve symptoms of asthma attacks (cough, chest tightness and wheezing, signs of bronchostenosis).
The drugs in this group include:
- Quick-acting beta-agonists (any bronchodilator of this group to relieve asthma attacks and prevent asthma symptoms caused by physical exertion);
- Anticholinergics (a bronchodilator, prescribed as necessary in combination with a fast-acting beta-agonist or as an alternative to these drugs);
- Systemic corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory drugs for the relief of exacerbations of bronchial asthma; they allow quickly coping with an attack during the selection of other treatments and to accelerate recovery).
Asthma medications: inhalers, nebulizers, and pills
Asthma medications can be used in various ways: they can be inhaled through a metered-dose inhaler, powder inhaler or nebulizer, and also taken orally in the form of pills or liquids. Some drugs are used as subcutaneous injections.
Some asthma medicines can be used together. For example, some inhalers contain a combination of two different drugs. Thanks to one device, both drugs enter the body simultaneously, correspondingly reducing the number of inhalers needed to treat asthma symptoms.
How often do I have to take asthma medications?
Bronchial asthma is an incurable disease. The frequency of taking anti-asthma drugs depends on the severity of the particular case and the frequency of symptoms. For example, if the symptoms occur solely in the allergy season, then taking drugs to control them is necessary only during this period. Although this course of the disease is somewhat unusual, and most people with asthma have to take medicine every day.
Basic principles for treating asthma
Asthma medications are the key to proper disease control. Find out all the information about the drugs you are taking: what drugs are included in your treatment regimen; when you need to take them; what is their effect and what to do if the medicine does not help. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:
- You must always have a stock of medicines. Contact your pharmacy or doctor’s office at least two days before your medicine is depleted. You need to know the phone number of the pharmacy, prescription numbers, the name of the drugs and dosage in order to quickly refill an order;
- Check up with your treatment plan if you have doubts about how and when to take your medicine. The regimen is designed specifically to better control symptoms. You must fully understand and be able to use it;
- Wash your hands before taking medications;
- Check the name and dosage of all drugs before use;
- Store the medicine according to the instructions and prescription;
- Check your liquid medications often. If they change color or crystallize, discard them and buy new ones;
- Tell your doctor about any other medicines you take. Some of them can affect the action of anti-asthma drugs if taken together. Most asthma medicines are safe. However, they may cause side effects that may vary depending on the drug and dose. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of your medication. Tell your doctor right away about the unusual or severe consequences of taking them.
Attentive and careful attitude to your own health, as well as interest in possible treatment options, will help you avoid exacerbations and unwanted complications and take the disease under control. After all, asthma is not a sentence but only a state of the body that can be changed.