Discontinued Asthma Medication? How to Explore Other Options

If you currently rely on an over-the-counter asthma medication to treat your respiratory symptoms, you'll need to find a prescription alternative in a hurry.

As of January 1, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will ban non-prescription epinephrine inhalers because they contain chlorofluorocarbons that harm the ozone layer. This change should prompt you to see your doctor and explore the range of environmentally-friendly prescription options.

Developing a Comprehensive Asthma Medication Strategy

When it comes to managing asthma with medication, it's important to understand that there are many different prescriptions on the market today that work in different ways to help you reach your optimal health goals. Some medications are used to improve your condition over the long-term, while others provide short-term symptom relief. Most people need to incorporate a combination of both short- and long-term medications for the most effective asthma control.

Long-Acting Control Asthma Medications

Long-acting control medications are essential to help you to manage your asthma and keep it from getting in your way. Just keep in mind that most control medications don't provide immediate relief from your symptoms but rather build up over time with regular usage to bring long-term benefits. Here are some popular options for long-term control you can find today:

Corticosteroids: These are available via inhaler, nebulizer, or oral form to reduce airway inflammation and lessen mucus production. They also make your airways less sensitive so they'll be less likely to tighten or go into a spasm.

Leukotriene modifiers: These asthma pills work by blocking chemicals in your immune system that lead to asthma symptoms.

Combination inhalers: Combination inhalers combine long-acting beta agonists (LABAs) with corticosteroids to open up the airways and keep inflammation to a minimum. While the combination can benefit some patients, the FDA warns that using LABAs without corticosteroids can pose the risk of worsening symptoms.

Oral bronchodilators: Used for mild asthma, these  pills can help relax your airways and make them less responsive to your triggers when used over time.

Fast-Acting Asthma Medications

If your control efforts aren't enough and you suddenly find yourself struggling with asthma symptoms, the following type of fast-acting asthma medicine can help you feel better fast:

Short-acting beta-agonists: These bronchodilators are most commonly taken in inhaled form. This medication works to open up your bronchial passages and clear out excess mucus so that air can move in and out properly. The benefits take effect a few minutes after using and can last for several hours. You can also use a short-acting beta-agonist 20 minutes before engaging in strenuous activity to prevent exercise-induced asthma. While this asthma medication can provide quick relief, it won't solve the problem that caused your symptoms in the first place. Therefore, if you find yourself reaching for your fast-acting relief inhaler frequently, you'll want to talk to your doctor about how to gain better control of your asthma.

Allergy Control Medications for Asthma

For allergy-induced asthma, you can also take allergy medications to prevent your immune system from responding to triggers. This can be an important step to head off related asthma symptoms. Some options that exist include:

Immunotherapy: Allergy shots or injections work by exposing you to small doses of allergens that are increased over time in order to desensitize your body. This can help to build up your tolerance and prevent your related asthma symptoms. The results vary from individual to individual but it can take a while to get the full benefits.

Immunomodulators: These medications are usually taken orally to head off your immune system's response to airborne asthma triggers.

Other allergy medications: You can also find a variety of other allergy medications available both over-the-counter and by prescription pills. Nasal sprays can prevent and treat allergy and asthma symptoms.

Successful Asthma Control

With any allergy and asthma medicines that you take, be sure to get directions from your doctor or pharmacist on how to use them properly to get the full effects. You should also take steps to avoid your allergy and asthma triggers in your home and workplace.




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