Asthma Treatment Chicago

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Rescue Inhalers (Short-Acting Broncho-Dilators)

  • Albuterol (Ventolin®, Proventil®, Proair®)
  • Levalbuterol (Xopenex®)
  • Pirbuterol (Maxair®)
    • Rescue inhalers work quickly to relieve asthma symptoms by relaxing the muscle layer of the lungs
    • They also help prevent exercise-induced asthma symptoms when taken 20 minutes before exercise. Because exercise is a common asthma trigger, rescue inhalers should always be readily available before and during physical activity.
    • Only temporarily relieves asthma symptoms and will NOT treat the inflammation that caused the asthma attack.
    • It is important to discuss the warning signs of worsening asthma and proper use of a rescue inhaler with your doctor.
    • Alubterol is most often used in an inhaled form with a device called a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). Albuterol and levalbuterol (Xopenex®) are also available as a solution that can be used with a nebulizer machine.

Long Term Controller Medications

Controller medications
are used when asthma symptoms occur frequently or a person has experienced frequent asthma attacks.

These medications are taken daily and work to reduce the chronic inflammation of the lungs that causes the symptoms of asthma.

Inhaled corticosteroids

  • Inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective long-term medications to control asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks
  • Inhaled corticosteroids do not start working right away and may take 1-2 weeks to notice significant symptom improvement
  • It is important not to stop your inhaled steroid even if your symptoms have improved. Stopping the medication can lead to a return of symptoms and increase the risk of an asthma attack.
  • Your doctor may adjust the dosage and frequency of the inhaled corticosteroid depending on the severity and frequency of your symptoms.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids will greatly reduce but not eliminate the chance of an asthma attack. A short course of oral corticosteroids may be required to gain control of your asthma symptoms.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids are different than anabolic steroids (used to build muscle mass) and are safe to take on a daily basis. Your doctor will be able to discuss any concerns you may have about potential medication side effects.

There are many different inhaled steroid medications available and include:

  • QVAR®

Leukotriene modifiers:

  • Treats inflammation in the lungs and nasal passage
  • Unlike inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers come in pill form
  • May be used as an alternative to inhaled corticosteroids for mild asthma symptoms (although they are not nearly as effective as inhaled corticosteroids)
  • Can be used in combination with inhaled steroids to help relieve chronic asthma symptoms
  • Can improve nasal allergy symptoms
  • May help prevent asthma symptoms triggered by exercise
  • Should not be used to relieve acute asthma symptoms but can be continued during an asthma attack.

Leukotriene modifiers include:

  • SINGULAIR® (Montelukast)
  • ACCOLATE® (Zafirlukast)
  • ZYFLO® (Zileuton)

Xolair® (Omalizumab)

  • Prescribed for patients 12 years of age and older for moderate-severe asthma triggered by year-round allergens
  • Helps reduce the number and severity of asthma attacks for people who are still having asthma symptoms despite taking inhaled corticosteroids
  • Given as an injection in your doctor’s office

Oral corticosteroids

  • Short courses of oral corticosteroids are sometimes needed to reduce the inflammation of a more severe asthma attack and can help prevent a trip to the emergency room or hospitalization.
  • Begin working in 4-6 hours.
  • Oral corticosteroids are most commonly given in 2-7 day bursts
  • Side effects for short-term use are usually limited to a few, if any, side effects which can include: fluid retention, moodiness, increased appetite, and upset stomach. If you are experiencing side effects that may be related to oral corticosteroids, please notify your doctor.

Examples of oral corticosteroids include:

  • Prednisone
  • Methyl-prednisolone (Medrol Dose-Pak)®
  • Prednisolone

1 Available in liquid form or as an orally disintegrating tablet (ODT)