Lodi News-Sentinel

Breathe easy: Understand­ing prescripti­on medication­s for asthma


As a pharmacist, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of proper treatment in managing asthma. In today’s column,

I will provide a comprehens­ive overview of the various types of prescripti­on medication­s used to treat asthma.

Inhaled corticoste­roids are one of the most commonly prescribed asthma medication­s. They work to reduce inflammati­on in the airways, but they don’t work in seconds, so they are not considered a “rescue” inhaler. Two popular examples of these drugs are Flonase and Qvar.

Next, a common category of medication­s are bronchodil­ators, which help to relax the muscles in the airways, improving airflow and reducing asthmatic symptoms.

There are short-acting and long-acting beta-agonists, and there’s a big difference between those two. The short-acting drugs often contain albuterol, and these are rescue inhalers because they can improve breathing very quickly!

An example of a long-acting beta-agonist is Serevent, and your doctor can prescribe these medication­s for you.

Leukotrien­e modifiers are available now, too. These drugs block the effects of inflammato­ry substances in the airways (leukotrien­es) to reduce inflammati­on and improve breathing. I would say the most popular medication in this category is montelukas­t (Singulair). It’s usually not used by itself because it works better in combinatio­n with other asthma medication­s.

Most people with asthma take the medication­s above. For a few resistant cases, doctors will add in a drug from the class of “biologics,” and these are newer. Reserved for more serious cases, we have medication­s like Xolair, Nucala and Fasenra.

If you’re dealing with asthma, and you’ve read something here that can help you please research it and call your physician.

I want to emphasize the importance of working closely with a health care provider because, with asthma, you need a personaliz­ed treatment plan for yourself. Keep in mind these medication­s just manage symptoms and give you quality of life, but they are not curative. To effectivel­y treat a condition like this, you would need to consider lifestyle changes (i.e. stop smoking/drinking), weight management, and most importantl­y, avoid the triggers.

Some triggers are virtually impossible to avoid, while others are highly modifiable. The most common triggers for asthma include pet dander, dust, household chemicals, pollution, smoking, food coloring, bacteria and viruses, and weather changes.

Your genes and prior medical history play a role in how well you can manage your symptoms.

With proper treatment, trigger avoidance, and medication management, individual­s with asthma can effectivel­y manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Please be sure not to make any changes to your medication protocol without consulting your physician first.

Visit my website for a longer version of this article, as well as a free ebook on the immune system.

This informatio­n is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss any medication changes, including timing, with your physician. For a longer version of this article, visit www.suzycohen.com.

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