Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Asthma Medicines

Asthma Controller Medicines

Asthma controller medicines assists in preventing asthma symptoms when taken daily as prescribed. These preventive asthma medicines include several different types. Each works in it’s special ways, and some are more suitable for certain levels of asthma severity.

Check out the more suitable one below:-

Inhaled Steroids

Inhaled steroids, also known as inhaled corticosteroids or ICS for short, have become the main medicine type in asthma treatment for persistent asthma in children and adults. They are more safe in terms of side effects, effective and make a significant difference in the quality of life for people who have asthma.

Asthma Leukotriene Modifiers

Asthma Leukotriene modifiers are asthma controller medications that are sometimes used in combination with, or instead of, inhaled steroids for people whose asthma is moderate to severe. They are also called Asthma Leukotriene Antagonists.

Asthma Long-Acting Beta Agonists

Asthma Long Acting Beta Agonists, or LABAs in short, are asthma medicines that does BOTH control or prevent asthma symptoms and asthma attacks. These are asthma bronchodilators whose effects last for twelve hours or more. They are recommended to use with the combination of inhaled steroids,for more effectiveness.

Asthma Immunomodulators

Asthma Immunomodulators are a new class of asthma medications that are used as an add-on therapy in people who have severe persistent asthma with allergies that has not responded sufficiently to asthma inhaled steroids. Asthma Immunomodulators are a type of antibody medicine.

Asthma Rescue Medications

Asthma Short Acting Bronchodilators (SABAs*) like Albuterol are the primary rescue medications used for the relief of acute chest tightness,coughing,shortness of breath and wheezing associated with asthma, your medical care providers may prescribe other medications to use as part of your asthma care plan.So make sure you have a asthma care plan with you prepared in advance.

Lets get more knowledge of these medicines:- 

  1. SABAs ( exp.Albuterol)
  2. Anticholinergics (exp. Atrovent)
  3. Steroids (exp. Prednisone)

SABAs*( Short Acting Bronchodilators )

SABAs provide relief of bronchoconstriction, or the tightening of muscles in the lung, by relaxing smooth muscles. Within minutes the smooth muscles relax, bronchoconstriction decreases, airflow obstruction decreases, and breathing becomes easier.

Frequent use (but with prescriptions) of SABAs over a short time period is an effective way to relieve asthma symptoms, but while providing relief, frequent SABA usage is a sign of poor asthma control. If you need to use a SABA more than twice per week or go through a single SABA inhaler in less than a month, your asthma is under very poor control(this is why we need a asthma action plan).

SABAs are most effective when inhaled through a metered dose inhaler or delivered through a nebulizer so that the medication can act directly in the lung. In very young children, some healthcare providers still use oral SABAs, but side effects are more common. In general inhaled SABAs are preferred because symptoms improve faster and side effects are less common.

Commonly known SABA side effects include: 

  1. rapid heart rates
  2. restlessness
  3. headache
  4. muscle tremors
  5. low potassium
  6. sleep disorders

Asthma Anticholinergics

Asthma Anticholinergic medicine provide smooth muscle relaxation and relief of obstruction by acting on different receptors in the lung. Because anticholinergic medicines act on different cell receptors than the bronchodilators, many doctors will combine the use of anticholinergics with bronchodilators for the acute relief of airway obstruction in an asthma attack.

Whereas beta-agonists act in minutes and last only for minutes, anticholinergics take longer to produce an effect and last longer. It may take up to 30 minutes for 80% of the bronchodilatory effect to be produced and the effects may last up to 6 hours. As such, anticholinergics are not appropriate for the acute treatment of asthma symptoms alone. Inhaled anticholinergics are generally well tolerated with few systemic side effects compared to beta-agonists.


Generally,after an hour of treatment, the rate of improvement in airflow obstruction significantly decreases. Taking systemic steroids either by mouth or through an intravenous line [ intravenous therapy or IV therapy is the giving of liquid substances directly into a vein. The word intravenous simply means “within a vein”. Therapies administered intravenously are often called specialty pharmaceuticals ] can significantly speed up improvement by decreasing inflammation in the lung. Current guidelines recommend steroids for any patient with a PEFR (peak flow) of less than 70% of predicted value.

Asthma symptom improvement after steroid administration normally takes at least 6 hours.

Common Side effects associated with short-term use include: 

  1. increased appetite
  2. indigestion
  3. nervousness or restlessness
  4. dizziness or lightheadedness
  5. flushing of face or cheeks
  6. hiccups
  7. increased sweating
Generally,asthma health care providers have a number of different fast relief asthma medications to help treat your asthma. You likely will use a SABA as part of your asthma care plan, but remember overuse is a sign of poor asthma control. Your health care provider may also use steroids and anticholinergics in any specific situations if your asthma has worsened. Educating yourself on each of these asthma medications and their potential side effects will help you gain better control of your asthma and live a more healthier life.

This above information is provided by https://whatasthmais.com/ is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your Doctor or health care provider for advice about your specific Asthma medical condition.


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