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Types of Inhaled Asthma Medicine

written by: pcheatham • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 3/18/2011

With so many types of inhaled asthma medicine, which one is right for you depends on how often an attack may occur. Read on to learn more about the different types and their side effects.

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    The types of inhaled asthma medicine used to control an asthma attack may vary based on your doctor's diagnoses of what is causing the attack. However, whichever inhaled asthma medication your doctor prescribes, there are only two categories--quick or long term relief. Asthma is found in both children and adults, and these types of inhaled asthma medications are prescribed to both.

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    Quick Relief

    Bronchodilators are also called rescue type inhalers because they provide fast acting relief to control an asthma attack. These are non-steroid medications. The most common quick relief inhalers used to treat attacks include Albuterol, Ipratropium, Pirbuterol and Levalbuterol. Bronchodilators help reduce inflammation and relax the muscles in the airways that restrict air during an attack

    If a person is using a rescue inhaler more than twice a week, this could be a sign that he needs to adjust his maintenance or long-term inhaler.

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    Long-Term Relief

    Meant to be used daily, inhaled corticosteroids fall under this category and are used commonly to manage asthma. Inhaled corticosteroids are taken even if asthma symptoms don't exist. Maintenance inhalers, as they are sometimes called, are used to prevent an attack, however, these types of inhalers will not help during an asthma attack. Instead, it is advised that you use the bronchodilator to get it under control.

    The most common names of inhaled corticosteroids are:

    • Flovent Diskus- As the name implies, this medicine is inhaled from a disk that when pressed shoots the medicine into the lungs.
    • Pulmicort Flexhaler is used and administered for different aliments of which asthma is one. Side effects may include muscle cramps, sore throat, cough, stomach upset and lightheadedness.
    • Qvar is another frequently prescribed asthma inhaled medication. A common side effect is oral thrush, which can be prevented if a person rinses his mouth out after every use.
    • Asmanex is a dry powder inhaler (DPI) that when pressed administers measured doses. Coughing is a common reaction with this type of inhaler. For this reason, this type of asthma inhaled medication is given to older kids and adults.
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    Shared Side Effects

    Shared side effects for most types of inhaled asthma medicine are oral related: thrush, sore throat and hoarseness. Although not considered to be serious, these side effects can be reduced with the use of a spacer. A spacer is a plastic barrel device that is attached to the end of the asthma inhaler. Spacers help to direct the medication pass the mouth, tongue and throat to get more of it into the airways. Rinsing the mouth is still recommended even with the use of a spacer.

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    References

    Mayo Clinic: Asthma medications: Know your options - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/asthma-medications/AP00008

    American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: Tips to Remember: Inhaled Asthma Medications - http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/inhaledmedications.stm