Diagnosing and classifying asthma is key to treating it.
Once asthma has been classified as mild, moderate or severe, a medical professional can take steps to help prevent it from happening in the future.
There are a wide range of medications used to treat severe asthma, ranging from long-term options, to those that will offer quick, almost immediate relief.
In some cases, allergy medications are also used as they can trigger asthma.
Quick Relief Asthma Medications
These medications work as described, offering quick, immediate relief from asthma symptoms.
- Short-acting beta agonists – Includes albuterol and levalbuterol, help ease symptoms within minutes of an asthma attack.
- Anticholinergic agents – Includes bronchodilators, ipratropium and tiotropium, quickly relax airways, allowing for easier breathing.
- Oral and intravenous corticosteroids – Includes prednisone and methylprednisolone, relieves inflammation of the airway for severe asthma (not recommended for long term use).
Most quick relief asthma medications come on the form of the classic inhaler, or nebulizer, which can include a mouthpiece of face mask.
Long-Term Asthma Treatments
These treatments are often taken daily and designed to keep asthma attacks at bay.
Common asthma treatments
- Inhaled corticosteroids – With a low risk of side effects, they need to be taken for days, even weeks to become fully effective. Includes fluticasone propionate (Flovent HFA, Flovent Diskus, Xhance), budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler, Pulmicort Respules, Rhinocort), ciclesonide (Alvesco), beclomethasone (Qvar Redihaler), mometasone (Asmanex HFA, Asmanex Twisthaler) and fluticasone furoate (Arnuity Ellipta).
- Combination inhalers – Offer corticosteroid with a long lived beta agonist. Includes fluticasone-salmeterol (Advair HFA, Airduo Digihaler, others), budesonide-formoterol (Symbicort), formoterol-mometasone (Dulera) and fluticasone furoate-vilanterol (Breo Ellipta).
- Theophylline – A daily pill that relaxes muscles around the airway. Requires regular blood tests.
- Leukotriene modifiers – Oral medications, taken daily, help relieve asthma symptoms. Includes montelukast (Singulair), zafirlukast (Accolate) and zileuton (Zyflo).
Allergy Medications Used To Treat Asthma
Some forms of asthma can be triggered by allergies. Medications most often used to threat this include:
Common asthma allergy medications:
- Biologics – allergy medication specifically for people with asthma. Includes omalizumab (Xolair), mepolizumab (Nucala), dupilumab (Dupixent), reslizumab (Cinqair) and benralizumab (Fasenra).
- Allergy Shots – Given over time, allergy shots can eventually help offer relief from certain types of allergies.
If the before noted severe asthma treatments don’t help alleviate symptoms, a doctor may recommend a Bronchial thermoplasty.
Essentially done over three outpatient procedures, a doctor heats airways in the lungs with an electrode, reducing muscles in the airways, which limits their ability to tighten. This can help make breathing easier and possibly prevent prevent future asthma attacks.