Asthma: Medication is a Must

Medications are integral to managing asthma. “Inadequately and poorly controlled asthma is a major risk factor for an exacerbation,” says Dr. Stanley Szetler, head of pediatric clinical pharmacology at National Jewish Health in Denver. When you have asthma you have chronic inflammation in the lungs, putting you at risk of an attack when you’re exposed to a trigger.

By taking a controller medication every day, such as an inhaled corticosteroid, you’re keeping the underlying inflammation in check. This means if you are exposed to a trigger, you’re less likely to have symptoms.

While there are some people with mild asthma who do not need a daily controller medication, “generally if they’re needing to use their rescue medication more than two days a week, that’s an indicator that they should discuss a long-term controller or evaluate their overall asthma plan with a physician or health-care provider,” says Szelfer.

Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICS)

If you or your child needs a controller medication, there’s a good chance the doctor will prescribe an inhaled corticosteroid. These are most commonly taken through a device called a metered-dose inhaler, in which you press down on the inhaler and a pressurized dose of medication is delivered. A note to the concerned: if the word ‘steroid’ scares you, rest assured these are quite safe.

“There’s a huge difference between oral steroids and inhaled steroids, says Szefler. “The inhaled steroids are designed to get to the site with minimal absorption to the body.”

Brand Names U.S.: Flovent (Fluticasone), Pulmicort (Budesonide), QVAR (Beclamethasone dipropionate), Alvesco (Ciclesonide)
Brand Names Canada: Flovent (Fluticason), Pulmicort (Budesonide), QVAR (Beclamethasone dipropionate), ALvesco (Ciclesonide).

Bronchodilators

These are the rescue medications in asthma. Often called the “reliever” inhaler, you’ll Want to carry yours with you at all times. This is the puffer that will open up…

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