Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, your doctor will make a treatment plan—including medications—that best addresses your symptoms.
Asthma medications have certain risks and side effects. Your healthcare provider will discuss these with you when determining which treatment option, if any, is right for you.
Asthma inhalers are handheld and portable, and are used to deliver asthma medication directly into your airways. It’s not uncommon for people with asthma to use one or more inhalers to manage their symptoms, depending on their needs.
Common Inhaler Medications and Uses
Long-Term Control Inhalers
Metered Dose Inhaler
A metered-dose inhaler uses a pressurized canister to release a single dose of medication into your lungs. It’s used by pushing the canister into a boot-shaped mouthpiece that dispenses the dosage. It can be used for quick-relief or long-term control medications.
Dry Powder Inhaler
A dry powder inhaler is breath-activated rather than pressurized and delivers medicine in powder form. It’s used by taking a deep, fast breath in through the inhaler, which releases the medicine. They come as single and multiple-dose inhalers and can be used for quick-relief or long-term control medications.
A nebulizer delivers medication as a fine mist through a mask that's worn over the mouth and nose. It's often used by patients who have trouble using an inhaler, such as infants, young children, and people who need large doses of medication or are very ill.
Oral Controller Medicines
Asthma medications can also come in tablet or liquid form.
A long-term control medicine that blocks chemicals called leukotrienes, which can increase swelling in your airways.
A long-term bronchodilator that relaxes the muscles around the airways of the lungs and opens your airways. It can be taken as a tablet, capsule, solution, or syrup.
While oral corticosteroids are generally used as a short-term treatment for severe asthma attacks, they may be used as maintenance treatment in some patients. However, with extended use comes an increased risk of side effects.
If you have severe asthma that is not responding well to inhaled or oral long-term controller medications, your doctor may prescribe a biologic injection. In asthma patients, biologics target specific antibodies, molecules, and certain immune system cells to stop them from causing lung inflammation that can lead to the development of asthma symptoms.
Who Is a Candidate?
Biologics are typically for patients who continue to experience severe asthma symptoms despite following a strict routine of long-term, daily control medications. Before you're placed on a biologic, your doctor will discuss the risks and side effects to determine which treatment, if any, is right for you.
How Are They Administered?
Biologics are commonly administered in a doctor’s office as an injection. Some biologics can be administered at home via an automatic injector or needle and syringe. The frequency of injections can differ depending on which medication is prescribed.