For those who have asthma, it is vitally important to understand what your medication choices are, or at least the basics. With the information presented here you will be able to have at least a basic understanding of what your options are for when you talk to your doctor. After all, it definitely helps to know the general direction that your doctor is coming from, and what some of the terms that they may use are. Keep in mind that this information is only to be used as a general overview, and should never be taken over the advice and information that is given from your doctor.
- Short Acting Beta Agonists. These medications, also known by the acronym SABA, are basically a drug class type that is commonly used as a quick-relief method of asthma medication. SABAs are typically the drug of choice when looking for acute relief of symptoms, and are also used to help prevent exercise induced asthma. Some of the more common types of SABAs include Albuterol, Proventil, Maxair, Xopenex, and Ventolin.
- Long Acting Beta Agonists. Just as the short acting agonists have a nickname, so do the long acting ones which is the acronym LABA. These types of asthma medications are preferred by doctors when inhaled steroids aren't doing all that great of a job in controlling symptoms. Typically, LABAs are not a single asthma medication, and are not usually used to deal with acute symptoms or exacerbations. This class of drugs include Brovana, Serevent, Perforomist, and Foradil.
- Oral Steroids. This type of medication is typically used for the treatment of moderate to severe asthma, and also to help improve symptoms and prevent late phase response of the allergic cascade from taking place. These types of medications are only used as a controller medication, and only then when multiple other kinds of medications have failed.
- Inhaled Steroids. This medication is the most common, and most important, type of asthma medication. The reason that they are is that they are typically the most potent type, and the most effective type of medication available, and are used for long term control of asthma. In addition, there are usually some anti-inflammatory properties that go along with inhaled steroids which helps to provide some much needed improvement of the condition.
- Anticholinergics. These act as a bronchodialator, and typically are only used with another group of medications called SABAs. The anticholinergics are usually only used to help treat acute asthma sysmptoms, and are usually only given out in the emergency room. An example of this medication goes by the name of Atrovent.
- Combinations. Some examples of this type of medication are Advair and Symbicort, which usually are made up of a combination of different medication products and an LABA and an inhaled steroid. These medications are typically presented in an inhaler format to allow a more efficient method of delivery.
- Immunomodulators. This is a group of drugs that are designed to provide long term control of asthma, and are typically considered sparing of steroids. An immunomodulator gets its name from the fact that it is designed to actually alter how the immune system responds to asthma triggers. The type of this medication that is currently available is called Xolair
- Alternative Medications. This category contains medications, and drug groups, that include Leukotriene Modifiers, and things like Cromolyn and Tilade. The Leukotriene Modifiers are usually used as an alternative treatment for people with mild persistent asthma and can usually be used in conjunction with inhaled steroids. This type of medicine includes Accolate, Singulair, and Zyflo. Cromolyn and Nedocromil are also used for mild persistent asthma cases, and help prevent inflammation of lung tissue. However, these are never used for the treatment of acute asthma.