What medications are best for the treatment of asthma? What are their side effects?
Albuterol is usually the primary “rescue” or short-term medicine that is used to help acute asthma symptoms, such as coughing or wheezing. When a patient needs to use albuterol to relieve daytime symptoms more than twice per week, however, it usually reflects the need to use daily “controller” or anti-inflammatory medications. Many people are concerned about the possible side effects of inhaled steroids, which are the largest group of “controller” medications available. When used in low- to medium-doses, however, inhaled steroids are very safe, even used on a daily basis for years. They are much safer than either multiple courses of *** steroids OR uncontrolled/undertreated asthma symptoms.
The two main types of asthma medicines are relievers and preventers. These are usually in inhalers or puffers. There is also a preventer which is a tablet, used by some people. Some other medicines (e.g. prednisone tablets) are only used for severe asthma flare-ups.
Everyone who has asthma needs a reliever (e.g. a ‘puffer’) to use when they have asthma symptoms.
In Australia, most relievers are available from pharmacies without a prescription. Relievers should only be used when you or your child has symptoms (or if your doctor tells you to take it before exercise) and should not be over-used.
In preschool children, wheezing may not be asthma. Wheezing does not need to be treated if your child is still happy and active while wheezing and does not seem to be having any problem breathing. If it is hard for your child to breathe while wheezing (i.e. if you can see the muscles of your child’s chest and neck working harder to *** in air with each breath), you must seek medical help immediately.