Asthma Medications

When you have asthma, there are three main things that happen inside your lungs – bronchospasm, increased mucous build up and inflammation.  Bronchospasm is the tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways.  Increased mucous build up comes from over secretion of thick, sticky mucous from the inside airway surfaces.  Inflammation is the swelling or irritation of the airways.  Bronchospasm, mucous over secretion and inflammation together cause the airways to narrow resulting in wheezing, chest tightness, cough and shortness of breath.

Asthma medications are used to prevent and control asthma symptoms.  These medications reduce the inflammation, mucous over secretion and constriction caused by asthma flare-ups.  There are two categories of asthma medications.  They are called:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications or controllers
  • Bronchodilators or relievers (rescue)

Anti-inflammatory medications are taken daily to help prevent and reduce swelling and mucous over secretion in the airways.  They work by reducing and preventing airway inflammation, swelling and mucus. They must be used regularly and should be given even if you do not have symptoms.  The medicines make it less likely that another episode will occur.

Bronchodilators, or relievers, are used when you have chest tightness; wheezing or coughing associated with an asthma flare-up.  These medications relax the muscles of the airways.  This makes it easier to breathe.  They are used only when needed, and rarely on a regular basis (unless the asthma is under poor control). It is important to use a spacer with your inhaler in order to help more medicine get into your lungs. 

There is a lot of research surrounding asthma in both children and adults.  As a result of that research, we are learning more about why asthma occurs.  With this research comes new products and treatments, which will provide help to people who currently suffer from asthma.

 

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