Are Your Meds Triggering Your Asthma?

You probably rely on your medicines to help you to feel better when you're sick, but you may not realize know that in some cases, the medication you use to treat one health problem could also be triggering your asthma symptoms in the process.

Medication and Asthma Triggers

It's the opposite of what you'd expect, but the fact is that certain medicines that you take for some health problems can cause changes in your body that can make your asthma kick in. And while anything can cause asthma, there are four main classes of medication that can be particularly difficult for some asthmatics to tolerate. The best way to protect yourself is to steer clear of these options when possible, or at least talk to your doctor about the risks and determine how best to minimize them.

Please review some of the types of medications below that can be common asthma triggers.

1. Beta-blockers If you suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma or migraines, you may treat the problem with a type of drug called beta-blockers. While this can be effective in managing the symptoms of your illness, this type of medication can also worsen asthma. Therefore, your best bet is to steer clear of beta-blockers when possible. But if no other feasible alternatives exist for your situation, talk to your doctor about the safest type and best way to take it with the fewest ill effects.

2. Aspirin and other pain relievers You probably use aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen when you have a fever or headache, strain your back or muscle ache. But if you have asthma, taking this medication may cause you to cough and wheeze. If you suspect any fever reducer or pain reliever is affecting your asthma, ask your doctor to recommend some safer options.

3. ACE Inhibitors This form of medication can be helpful in managing heart disease or hypertension. Yet about 10 percent of asthmatics find it makes them feel worse instead of better. This is because the medicine can cause you to cough and even wheeze, both of which can aggravate your asthma. ACE inhibitors can also worsen acid reflux, which can further be one of your asthma triggers.

4. Contrast Dyes Last time you had an X-ray done, did you have to drink something or get an injection first? If so, it probably contained contrast dye, which is often used to get a clearer picture of the body part being examined. But in some asthmatics, this dye can trigger an asthma attack. Therefore, always tell your doctor or the X-ray technician that you have asthma and ask about taking an antihistamine first to head off the reaction, or go without the contrast dye instead.

Play it Safe

To help determine if your medications could be your asthma triggers, you may find it helpful to keep a log of when you take your medication and what symptoms, and when, you're experiencing. You can also use your peak flow meter to track your breathing capacity and notice any changes that occur and what the patterns are. Then you can share this information with your doctor and determine how to control your health conditions and still keep your asthma in check.

Also remember that you should never experiment with starting and stopping your medications on your own, but always let your doctor guide you on this.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology ( AAAAI)

American Academy of Family Physicians