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Microsoft word - asthma medications abc.doc
There are basic groups of medications used in the treatment
ARNIE BAKER CYCLING
Generic names are listed before trade names.
This allows the breathing passages to open
Many of the adrenergic and steroids medicines
more, and then the steroid inhaler medicine will
are available in tablet and inhaler form. Inhaler
medicines go directly to the lungs. Tablets travel
through the blood stream before reaching the
lungs. Tablets have more side effects because
they go throughout the body. Side effects are
If you have an inhaler, it is important to check
reduced by using the inhaler form of these
that you are using it correctly. Most patients need
one-to-one instruction to make sure of proper
If your breathing problems are more severe,
use. Inhaler “chambers” may make it easier to
and you are “tight”, and unable to take a good
use your inhaler, or to have the medicine go to
breath, it may be that the inhaler medicines do
your lungs and not deposit on the back of your
not work well, because they cannot reach the
deep parts of your lungs. At such a time, tablet
forms of these medicines are often used.
All medicines sometimes have side effects.
The adrenergic medicines work the quickest to
relieve spasm and constriction of the breathing
passages. The steroid medicines are amongst the
slowest of asthma medicines in their effect.
Corticosteroid tablets have some immediate
side effects including weight gain. Oral steroids
If you need both the steroid and the beta-
also have some serious long term side effects:
adrenergic stimulator inhalers, use the beta-
These side effects include diabetes, weakening of
bones, and a rounded face. Continued
Copyright Arnie Baker, MD, 1989-2003. Revised 11/24/2003. This training handout may be photocopied for distribution only if used in its entirety; and only with written permission. Electronic transmission is
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Sometimes it is necessary to use steroids for a
Cromolyns may help a minority of patients.
long time to help breathing. The side effects are
They often require consistent long-term use to be
sometimes a necessary problem to be coped with,
effective. They seem to be more successful in
in order to breathe. The long term side effects of
children than in adults. They are marketed for
oral steroid tablets should be minimized by using,
exercise-induced bronchospasm, but I have not
as much as possible, inhaled steroids and the
found them very useful for that indication.
correct doses of the theophylline and adrenergic
Atrovent may help a minority of patients with
asthma, usually those who also have with
If you need something for asthma only once in
a while, it makes sense to use the adrenergic inhaler, as needed, up to 2 puffs 4 times a day. It is the fastest working of asthma medicines, and you use it only when you need it.
If you always need some medicine to help your
asthma, then it makes sense to take a corticosteroid inhaler regularly. You can add the adrenergic inhaler when and if you need it. For those needing long-acting beta-adrenergics, the relatively new inhaled salmetrol is the only one currently available.
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