Asthma is a disease that causes the airways to swell. As such, it can cause major damage to the lungs, brain, and heart if it is not controlled.
Although asthma cannot be cured at this time, there are treatments that can help manage the inflammation.
The medications are broken down into two different categories: Long-Term Medication and Instant Medication.
These medications are usually used to halt the bronchiole tubes from inflaming excessively over a period of time. Usually, these types of medications require 12-24 hours to show noticeable effects. Such medications include:
- Montelukast Sodium
Some of these medications are available in tablet form, inhaled form, or meant for a nebulizer. A nebulizer is a machine that generates a flow of air into a "cup" of medicine, to provide vapor [of the medication] to the victim. For instance, budesonide can be used as an inhaler as well as with a nebulizer, while montelukast sodium is intended to be taken as a tablet.
Of all the various types of medication, inhaled corticosteroids are most effective in preventing inflammation. These corticosteroids also act upon the blood vessels, prohibiting them from diverting into the airway tubes.
Some possible side effects of inhaled corticosteroids include a temporary loss of voice ("sketchy" voice), yeast infections (oral), and a slight cough. Studies show that the long term side effects are generally mild, yet can pose a threat for elders as well as young kids. Inhaled corticosteroids were found to stunt or slow down child growth, while the elders experienced a higher amount of bruising, increase in eye pressure, and larger cases of cataracts. Doctors recommend that after inhaling each dose of the corticosteroid you thoroughly cleanse you mouth to prevent yeast buildup.
Leukotriene modifiers are used to halt the release of leukotrienes, in order to prevent further inflammation in the airways. Due to Leukotriene modifiers having to travel into the blood- stream, it normally would prevent attacks 12-24 hours of consumption.
Generally, leukotriene modifiers are not as effective as inhaled corticosteroids; however they are effective if you have lower symptoms of asthma and wish to remain far from corticosteroids.
Instant Relief Medication
Instant relief, or rescue, medication generally tends to be the most commonly used. Instant action bronchodilators are used to temporarily eliminate the swelling caused by the leukotrienes. As such, instant relief medications have the most ease of access. Typically in forms of an inhaler, instant relief medication begins working in minutes, and contains further trouble for four to six hours.
You may have seen a friend sit out of a game and inhale from a cylindrical tube. That is a fast-acting inhaler. Instant relief, or fast-acting inhalers, usually show immediate improvement, but this doesn't last as long as long-term medicines. This type of medication is designed are usually meant to decrease the inflammation, so the person can get back to what they were doing. These medications include:
- Albuterol (most commonly used)
Allergy Induced Asthma
IgE is a chemical produced by the body that reacts with allergens, producing an allergic reaction. Therefore, it is significant to stop the spread of IgE, in order to diminish the chances of asthma attacks. The recently introduced omalizumab does just that. Omalizumab is an anti-IgE antibody medication that is given via injection to the patient. Omalizumab essentially blocks the spread of IgE throughout the body.
Omalizumab [oh mah LIZ uh mab] is meant for adults and children 12 years and older, and should only be used for moderate to severe cases of asthma. The omalizumab injection is generally given every 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the body's reaction to preliminary exposure. Although uncommon, those who take omalizumab run the risk of developing blood clots. There has been some indication that omalizumab may cause cancer, however researchers are still developing on this idea.