Asthma Treatments

Get Help Managing Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition, but with regular medical care and attention, people living with asthma can maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.1 One part of managing persistent asthma is determining the right treatment plan with a doctor and sticking to it. By taking medications as prescribed, avoiding triggers and monitoring symptoms, you can keep your asthma or your child’s asthma in check.1

Remember that asthma symptoms can change over time,1 so it is important to regularly assess asthma symptoms and see a doctor frequently to keep symptoms in check and the Asthma Action Plan up to date.

Types of Asthma Treatment

Inflammation in both the large and small airways of the lungs is a key cause of asthma. Treatment for persistent asthma may involve taking medicine daily to reduce inflammation which can reduce asthma symptoms and achieve control.2 Most people living with persistent asthma require two types of medications:

  • Quick-relief medicine to be taken as needed for immediate symptom relief during an "asthma attack" or flare-up2

    People living with asthma should take their quick-relief medicine at the first sign of an asthma attack or flare up. Everyone with asthma needs a fast-acting medicine to stop symptoms when they flare up. The most common treatment is an inhaled short-acting bronchodilator, also known as Short-Acting Beta Agonists (SABA) that works to quickly relax tightened muscles in the airways, allowing them to open.2

  • Long-term control medicine taken daily to reduce and control inflammation in the large and small airways2

    In addition to a quick-relief medicine, long-term control medicines prevent asthma symptoms. The most effective long-term control medicines are anti-inflammatory medicines because they reduce inflammation in your airways, making them less likely to respond to asthma triggers.2 Studies suggest that treating underlying chronic inflammation in both the large and small airways is important.3,4,5

The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) Guidelines suggest that patients with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma should first try inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) to control their asthma symptoms.6 Many people with persistent asthma treat their symptoms with a combination inhaler that consists of an ICS and a long-acting bronchodilator, also known as Long-Acting Beta Agonists (LABA). Taking LABAs alone may have an increased risk of severe flare-ups of asthma symptoms. For some people these flare ups may be severe enough to lead to hospitalization or death.7 Because of the risk associated with LABAs, if you are using a combination inhaler and your asthma is under control, you should consider discussing “stepping-down” treatment to just an ICS with your doctor.7

References
  1. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. So you Have Asthma. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/asthma/have_asthma.pdf. Accessed September 11, 2012.
  2. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. How is asthma treated and controlled. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/asthma/treatment.html. Accessed September 11, 2012.
  3. Shi Y, Akedia AS, Tatavoosian AV, et al. Relating small airways to asthma control by using impulse ocillometry in children. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011:1-8.
  4. Leach CL, Davidson PJ, Hasselquist BE, Boudreau RJ Lung desposition of hydrofluoroalkane-134a beclomethasone is greater than that of chlorofluorocarbon fluticasone and chlorofluorocarbon beclomethasone: a cross-over stufy in health volunteers. Chest. 2002:122:510-516
  5. Gelfrand EW, Kraft M. The importance and features of the distal airways in children and adults. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Dec; 124(6 Suppl:)284-7.
  6. National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel. Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Rockville, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 2007. NIH Publication 08-4051.
  7. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. FDA Drug Safety Communication: Drug labels now contain updated recommendations on the appropriate use of long-acting inhaled asthma medications called Long-Acting Beta-Agonists (LABAs). Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm213836.htm. Accessed September 11, 2012.