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Confused About Your Asthma Medications? Here’s What You Need To Know.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in 13 Americans suffers from asthma, which translates to more than 26 million people! Patients with asthma are often confused about what medications they should be taking and why. Here’s a breakdown of the classes of medications we use to treat asthma, and how they work.

1) Rapid-Acting Inhalers.

Every patient who’s been diagnosed with asthma should have a rapid-acting inhaler, which usually contains albuterol. We call these “rescue inhalers” because they work quickly, counteracting asthma symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath within a matter of minutes.

2) Long-Acting Inhalers.

While rapid-acting inhalers can offer immediate relief from asthma symptoms, the effects wear off within 3-4 hours. Patients who need to use their rapid-acting inhaler more than two days a week are often started on a long-acting inhaler that relaxes the airway muscles, decreases inflammation and decreases the need for frequent use of rapid-acting inhalers.

3) Steroids.

Steroids decrease the inflammation that causes the airway constriction, wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing that asthma patients frequently experience. Steroids come in several forms. Patients with more mild symptoms often use a steroid inhaler. Patients with an asthma exacerbation often benefit from oral steroids. And patients who are having an asthma emergency are given steroids through an I.V.

4) Medications for Allergy-Induced Asthma.

Some patients’ asthma is induced by dust, pollen, ragweed, pet dander and other allergens. These patients are often given an oral medication that counteracts the allergic response and minimizes their asthma symptoms.

5) Biologics.

Patients whose asthma is not controlled by the above medications may benefit from a newer class of asthma medications called "biologics." These medicines, made from living organisms, target the microscopic pathways that are responsible for lung inflammation and asthma exacerbations.

We're Here to Help.

At GoHealth Urgent Care, we have on-site nebulizer machines and other resources for patients who are experiencing asthma symptoms. Click below if there’s anything we can do today to help you feel better:

(If you’re experiencing a life-threatening asthma attack, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Department immediately.)



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