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Asthma Medications (cont.)

Quick-Relief Asthma Medications

These asthma medications are used to provide prompt relief of asthma attack symptoms (cough, chest tightness, and wheezing -- all signs of airway bronchoconstriction).

The asthma drugs include:

  • Short acting beta-agonists (bronchodilators that are the drug of choice to relieve asthma attacks and prevent exercise-induced asthma symptoms)

  • Anticholinergics (bronchodilators used in addition to short-acting beta-agonists when needed or as an alternative to these drugs when needed)

  • Systemic corticosteroids (an anti-inflammatory drug used in an emergency to get rapid control of the disease while initiating other treatments and to speed recovery)

Inhalers, Nebulizers, and Pills as Asthma Medicine

Asthma medicines can be either inhaled, using a metered dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler, or a nebulizer, or taken orally, either in pill or liquid form. A newer type asthma medication called Xolair is given by injection just under the skin.

Some asthma medicines can be taken together. There are some inhalers that contain a combination of two different medications. These devices allow both medications to be delivered from one device, shortening treatment times and decreasing the number of inhalers needed to treat asthma symptoms.

Theophylline for Asthma

Theophylline is another type of bronchodilator that is used to control symptoms of asthma, but it is not delivered in an asthma inhaler. Theophylline is sold under the brand names Uniphyl, Theo-Dur, Slo-Bid, and Theo-24 and is available as an oral (pill and liquid) or intravenous (through the vein) drug. Theophylline is long-acting and prevents asthma attacks. Theophylline is used to treat difficult-to-control or severe asthma and must be taken daily.

Side effects of theophylline include:

These side effects of theophylline may also be a sign of having taken too much medication. Your doctor will check your blood levels of the medication to make sure you are receiving the proper amount.

Always tell your doctors if you take theophylline for asthma because certain medications, such as antibiotics containing erythromycin, seizure medicine, and ulcer medicine can interfere with the way theophylline works. Also, make sure your doctor knows about any other medical conditions you may have, since some diseases and illnesses can change how your body responds to theophylline.

And keep in mind that not only is smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke especially dangerous for those with asthma, but smoking can also interfere with how your body responds to theophylline. Therefore, it is best to avoid smoke when possible.

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