Treating Asthma

Treating asthma

As every asthma patient probably knows, there is no cure for asthma. Over the years, however, a comprehensive set of procedures and treatments have been developed to help asthma patients deal with its symptoms and thrive in their day to day lives.

The thumb rules are:

  • Identify asthmatic triggers
  • Avoid these and other known triggers
  • Be aware of early warning signs of oncoming attacks

Most asthmatics will have one of the following prescribed to them by doctors for times when an asthmatic attack is unavoidable.

As the name suggests, these work by dilating the bronchi to let more air through to the patient’s lungs. Bronchodilators are usually prescribed to patients with relatively low-intensity asthma. Examples of bronchodilators are:

  • Short-acting beta-adrenergic blockers like Albuterol
  • Long-acting beta-adrenergic blockers like Salmeterol or formoterol
  • Beta-agonists

Inhaled corticosteroids
Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone produced naturally by the body. Corticosteroids are medications that mimic the effects of cortisol and are used for various conditions, including for pain relief and chronic inflammation like arthritis. Corticosteroids are usually taken through inhalers. Commonly known brands of corticosteroids are:

  • Flovent
  • Beclovent
  • Pulmicort

Leukotriene modifiers
When your body comes in contact with an allergen it releases leukotrienes, leukotriene modifiers work on this response by the body and reduce allergic inflammation so that the patient’s airways can be opened. Some commonly known brands are:

  • Singulair
  • Accolate
  • Zyflo

Mast cell stabilizers
Similar to leukotriene modifiers, mast cell stabilizers also work by reducing allergic inflammation. The most commonly available mast cell stabilizer is ‘Cromolyn Sodium.’

Oral steroids
In some sense, inhalers are also administered orally, but the crucial difference between oral medication and inhaled medication is the ultimate point of ingestion. In the case of the former, it is ingested through the stomach and intestines, while the latter is ingested through the respiratory system. The most commonly used oral steroid is Prednisone, which is administered in the case of severe asthma flare-ups.

Combination therapy
There are rare cases where doctors may prescribe inhalers that contain both, corticosteroids and a long-acting beta agonist as the active medication.