What Exactly is Asthma?
Asthma is a long-term (chronic) lung illness. It affects the tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs, known as airways. The airways to the lungs might become narrowed due to inflammation if one has asthma. The constricted airways cause breathing trouble, coughing, and chest tightness. When these symptoms become severe it results in an asthma attack or a flare up s it may be called.
What are the Types of Asthma Medications?
Asthma medications are broadly classified into two types known as asthma preventers or controllers, and asthma relievers.
Asthma preventers should be used daily to prevent asthma attacks or avoid symptoms while relievers are medicines which are taken after an attack has already begun to get relief from asthma symptoms.
Both of them come mostly as inhalers or puffs while some may also come in dry powder form or capsule form. The ones which come as fine sprays are released only when breathed in. Some medicines may also be taken in vapour form in nebulizers.
Mechanism of Asthma Reliever
Asthma relievers are also known as bronchodilators which are fast-acting asthma drugs used when an asthma attack has already begun to get relief from the common symptoms of asthma like coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing etc. Asthma relievers help to relax the muscles around the airways encouraging easy air flow through the airways which becomes constricted due to the flare-up which can start acting in minutes after use while lasting effects for hours. Asthma relievers are also classified as:
- Short-acting beta-agonists- These are the best and quickest to relieve symptoms post an attack. Some examples are salbutamol
- Anticholinergics- This takes slightly longer than short-acting beta blockers. This works by decreasing mucus and releasing airways. Ipratropium and tiotropium falls under this category
- Oral corticosteroids- These help to reduce airways swelling such as methylprednisolone
Mechanism of Asthma Preventer
Asthma preventers work by preventing asthma and controlling symptoms when taken daily. They make the airways less responsive by reducing inflammation (redness and swelling).
Many individuals with asthma use a preventer, which is often in the form of an inhaler that provides a modest amount of corticosteroid to the lungs.
Who should be prescribed an asthma preventer?
- Anyone who has had asthma symptoms twice or more in a month.
- Have been woken from sleep due to chest congestion or difficulty in breathing.
- If had to visit hospital due to asthma flare up emergency
The asthma prevention medicines are mostly combination medicines that contain a second medication called a ‘long-acting bronchodilator’ (LABA). in addition to the corticosteroid. The long-acting bronchodilator works by relaxing the tensed airway muscles, allowing more air to reach the lungs.
Preventers take several days, if not weeks, to act (so they’re not for immediate symptom relief). Preventers must be used every day, even if you have no symptoms, for them to operate successfully.
Preventatives can have negative side effects like hoarse voice and it may not be effective after a while if not taken properly. Some examples of (LABA) include Budesonide which is a corticosteroid and formoterol fumarate is a bronchodilator.