Asthma affects both children and adults and can last a lifetime. Asthma causes your airways to swell and leads to difficulty breathing, coughing and a feeling of tightness in your chest. If your children have asthma, you may notice that they wheeze, or produce a whistling noise when they breathe out. Several medications can control asthma symptoms.
About Rescue Medications
Two types of medication for asthma are common. Rescue, or quick relief, medications work to clear up asthma symptoms during an attack. Beta agonists are the most commonly prescribed type of rescue medication, according to KidsHealth. During an attack, you inhale the medicine, which works to dilate your bronchial tubes so that you can breathe more easily. If you or your child are experiencing a serious flare up and the beta agonist inhaler is not working, you may need a corticosteroid injection, which will reduce the inflammation in your airways, according to MedicineNet.
About Long-Term Medications
If you or your child experience frequent asthma attacks, or if you have chronic inflammation, you may need a controller medicine. While rescue medications begin working within minutes to open constricted airways, controller medicine works over a period of days and weeks to reduce inflammation in your airways. Long-term asthma medications include inhaled corticosteroids and inhaled long-acting beta agonists, according to MayoClinic.com. You may also take a pill, such as theophylline, which relaxes the airways, or a leukotriene modifier to prevent constriction
Other Types of Medications
Sometimes, allergies cause asthma. If this is the case, you may benefit from taking an allergy medication, such as an antihistamine, to manage asthma symptoms. You may also wish to receive allergy shots, which will decrease the way your immune system reacts to allergens over time, according to MayoClinic.com. If your asthma is caused by allergies and is not controlled by anything else, you may need injections of omalizumab, an antibody that blocks the production of the substance that causes allergic asthma, according to MedlinePlus.
Side Effects and Risks
Asthma medications have several side effects. Some corticosteroids can, if used too often or for too long a time, cause osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cataracts and stunted growth in children, according to MayoClinic.com. Inhaled corticosteroids generally do not have side effects. Although it sounds odd, certain medications, such as long-acting inhalers can lead to more intense asthma attacks. Leukotriene modifiers may cause a person to become depressed or aggressive or to hallucinate.
In some cases, you may be able to keep your asthma symptoms at bay without the use of medication. You can try to avoid all the things that trigger your asthma, such as allergens and irritants. Keep pollen and other particles out of your home by keeping the windows close and using a filter in your furnace and air conditioner. Running a humidifier the bedroom can also help prevent attacks. MayoClinic.com recommends wearing a mask over your nose and mouth while cleaning and when venturing outdoors on cold, dry days.