While asthma cannot be cured, it can be managed with a combination of preventative measures and medication.
Medication prescribed for the treatment of asthma generally falls into two categories: quick-relief and long-term control. These methods of treatment are detailed below.
- Inhaled bronchodilators: These inhaled medications work quickly to ease the muscles surrounding the airways in the lungs, reducing the physical symptoms of an asthma attack. Bronchodilators (drugs such as albuterol or levalbuterol) can be administered through an inhaler or nebulizer (a machine that mists medication through a mouthpiece).
- Anticholinergics: Anticholinergic agents (ipratropium or tiotropium) quickly relax the airways in the lungs, which can help make breathing easier.
- Oral/ intravenous (IV) corticosteroids: Drugs such as prednisone and methylprednisolone may be administered through a tablet or intravenous injection to quickly reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of asthma.
- Corticosteroids: These drugs may be administered as a daily tablet or through an inhaler. Corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation caused by asthma. These drugs (such as budesonide or fluticasone furoate) can cause adverse side effects. Talk to your doctor about whether or not corticosteroids are the right treatment for you.
- Leukotriene modifiers: Leukotrienes are chemicals released by the body when it comes into contact with an irritant. These drugs (such as montelukast) stop the production of leukotrienes, reducing inflammation and the physical symptoms of an asthma attack.
- Biologic medicine: If other forms of medicinal therapy haven’t worked for you, your doctor may prescribe a biologic medication such as omalizumab, mepolizumab, dupilumab, reslizumab, or benralizumab to treat the antibody, molecule, or cell receptor involved in asthma. Biologic medications work by targeting the specific underlying cause of asthma. These drugs are only used for the treatment of severe asthma if other forms of therapy have failed to work effectively.