Asthma is a chronic condition, usually triggered by allergens such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, mold, and cigarette smoke, as well as by exercise and emotional trauma in some patients. Irritation of the airways triggers the immune system, which mistakenly reacts as if the body were under attack. Inflammation of the airways results, making breathing difficult. Viral upper airway infections (i.e. the common cold) can also trigger it. Avoiding triggers can be helpful in preventing exacerbations. Medical treatment is also helpful in keeping asthma under control.
Inhalation therapy is used both chronically, to prevent episodes, and to treat acute episodes. Inhaled corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory hormones, are the mainstay of chronic treatment. Patients may use them every day without seeing the side effects without the side effects caused by oral corticosteroids. These medications are:
- Flovent (fluticasone propionate)
- Pulmicort (budesonide)
- Alvesco (ciclesonide)
- Qvar Redihaler (beclomethasone)
- Asmanex (mometasone)
- Arnuity Ellipta (fluticasone furoate)
Combination inhalers contain corticosteroids as well as beta agonists, medications which help open airways. Examples are:
- Advair HFA (fluticasone-salmeterol)
- Symbicort (budesonide-formoterol)
- Dulera (formoterol-mometasone)
- Breo Ellipta (fluticasone furoate-vilanterol)
Leukotriene modifiers lower inflammatory molecules produced by white blood cells. A list of them includes:
- Singulair (montelukast)
- Accolate (zafirlukast)
- Zyflo (zileuton)
Theo-24 (theophylline) is a pill taken daily to relax airway muscles.
When an exacerbation does occur, the following rescue medications may be delivered through either an inhaler or nebulizer:
- Pro-Air HFA (albuterol)
- Xopenex (levalbuterol)
- Atrovent HFA (ipratropium)
- Spiriva (tiotropium)
Oral and intravenous corticosteroids are also used to treat acute episodes of asthma.
If you or a family member is having a severe episode of asthma call 911. For routine management, our doctors can help and prescribe asthma inhalers and steroids online—without having to go to a doctor’s office.