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List of Medications for Exercise-Induced Asthma

written by: Genevieve Van Wyden • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/18/2010

Find out what medications your doctor can prescribe for you if he diagnoses you with this condition. These medications for exercise induced asthma include “rescue” medication, or a short-acting beta2 agonist, an inhaled corticosteroid, a combination medication and a leukotriene modifier.

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    Overview

    It never fails -- you go out for a jog with your dog or a game of pick up basketball with some friends and you start coughing and wheezing. You never have these symptoms at any other time: you don’t react around animals, plants or pollen. So what’s going on? Talk to your doctor and tell him what happens when you participate in strenuous physical activity. He’ll ask you several questions and run some tests before he tells you what’s happening. Your diagnosis may be something called “exercise induced asthma” or EIA. If it is, you don’t have to put the kibosh on all physical activity, and in fact, you shouldn’t. Below is a list of medications for exercise induced asthma that can fend off symptoms so you can get through a full jog or game of basketball.

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    Albuterol Metered Dose Inhaler

    Albuterol works to relax the muscles in your airways and helps to increase airflow to your lungs. This medication is used to prevent -- or treat -- asthma attacks in patients suffering from asthma or reversible obstructive airway disease. Albuterol is also useful for people suffering from exercise induced asthma.

    Shake the canister several times before each spray. Exhale completely. Take the cap off the mouthpiece, put it in your mouth and close your lips around it. Slowly breathe in as you push the canister down. Hold your breath for 10 seconds and breathe out. If your doctor wants you to use a second inhalation, wait for one minute before doing so. Repeat the above steps for your second inhalation.

    Side effects of albuterol include allergic reactions such as breathing difficulty, hives and swelling of the throat, tongue, lips and face. If you develop signs of bronchospasm, chest pain or an uneven or pounding heartbeat, nervousness or tremor, very high blood pressure, low potassium -- leg discomfort, muscle weakness or a limp feeling, confusion, increased urination or thirst or dangerously high blood pressure -- bad headache, chest pain, anxiety, confusion, buzzing ears, blurred vision, shortness of breath or seizure, get medical attention immediately.

    Other side effects include insomnia, hoarseness, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, muscle pain, diarrhea and muscle pain.

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    Intal Inhaler

    Cromolyn (Intal) helps to prevent asthma symptoms by lessening the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. Intal works by decreasing the level of inflammation in the lungs; when this medication is used right before exposure to allergens or conditions that cause bronchospasm. This medication will not work to stop an asthma attack when one has begun. Intal works on inflammatory cells inside the lungs and keeps these cells from releasing asthma-causing substances.

    When using an Intal inhaler for the first time, prime it by pressing on the medication canister once, spraying the medication into the open air. After you have primed the inhaler, it will deliver the correct dose of medication to your lungs.

    Exhale completely and place the mouthpiece in your mouth. Close your lips around the mouthpiece and tilt your head back slightly. Begin breathing in and press the canister once. Breathe in slowly for 3 to 4 seconds, taking in a full breath. Hold your breath for 10 seconds. If you are supposed to take a second puff, repeat the above instructions again.

    Side effects include tightness in the chest, difficulty swallowing, hives, difficulty breathing, wheezing, itchy skin, swelling of the eyelids, lips and face, low blood pressure and shortness of breath. Call your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms. Other, more common, side effects include coughing, dry throat, throat irritation and nausea.

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    Azmacort

    Azmacort falls into the corticosteroid class and is used to prevent and control asthma symptoms. This medication works inside the lungs to reduce lung irritation and airway swelling.

    Azmacort does not stop asthma attacks and has to be used regularly to prevent asthma symptoms. Azmacort’s effects may take as long as two weeks to be felt.

    Prime your inhaler before using it for the first time -- use the same priming instructions as for Intal. Inhale the prescribed dosage by mouth by exhaling fully, putting the mouthpiece in your mouth, closing your lips over the mouthpiece and breathing in slowly as you press down on the canister. Hold your breath for 10 seconds and repeat this step for a second inhalation if your doctor has prescribed two puffs. Rinse your mouth out and spit the water out after rinsing to prevent hoarseness, dry mouth and fungal infection (thrush) after each dose. Keep track of each dosage and throw your inhaler out after you have used the number of inhalations listed on the package.

    Side effects include a sore or dry throat, hoarseness, voice changes and headache. If these effects get worse, call your doctor. In rare cases, Azmacort may cause a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms. If this happens to you, use your albuterol inhaler and get immediate medical attention. Azmacort works by making your immune system weaker. If you develop symptoms of infection, notify your doctor right away.

    Call your doctor right away if you notice these serious side effects: easy bruising or bleeding, vision problems, unusual tiredness, unusual hair growth, puffy face, mental or mood changes including mood swings, depression or agitation or physical symptoms such as muscle pain or weakness, thinning skin or slow wound healing. If you experience itching or swelling of the face, tongue or throat, severe dizziness or trouble breathing, get medical attention immediately.

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    Beclovent Inhaler

    Beclovent is a steroid medication in inhaler form used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems. This is not a short-acting bronchodilator medication and isn’t for the relief of sudden asthma symptoms. Instead, it helps to control your asthma when it is used regularly.

    This medication may take one to two weeks to reach full effectiveness, although some patients begin to experience relief within one or two days. It is important to use your medication every day even when you have no asthma symptoms.

    Use your bronchodilator inhaler several minutes before administering your Beclovent -- it helps improve the effects of the Beclovent. Prime your Beclovent inhaler when you use it for the first time.

    Remove the cap and shake the inhaler. Drink a small amount of water before using your Beclovent, then breathe out fully, put the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips over it. Press down on the canister and inhale deeply. Hold your breath for as long as you can. Administer a second puff one minute after the first puff. Gargle and rinse your mouth after every dose to avoid throat irritation and hoarseness. Spit the water out.

    You may experience agitation, acne, breathing problems, allergic reactions, skin bruising, cataracts, chest pain, cold sores, depression, cough, dry mouth, dizziness, fever, ear infections, flu-like symptoms, fluid retention, headaches, hives, hoarseness, symptoms of glaucoma, joint pain, itching, mental disturbances, lightheadedness, a swollen or moon face, mouth or throat infection, muscle pain, throat and nasal dryness and irritation, nausea, nasal burning and infection, pinkeye, nosebleed, a pins and needles sensation, ringing in the ears, runny nose, skin rash, sneezing, skin wasting, sore throat or mouth, stunted growth, stuffy nose, tearing eyes, loss of taste or smell or unpleasant tastes and smells, vomiting, upset stomach, wheezing or weight gain.

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    Montelukast (Oral)

    Oral montelukast (Singulair) is used to treat asthma, including exercise induced asthma. It works to decrease asthma symptoms and their severity. This medication is classified as an anti-inflammatory leukotriene pathway inhibitor. Instead of being used as an inhaler, montelukast is manufactured as tablets, chewable tablets and an oral granule packet.

    Montelukast can be taken on an empty or full stomach and must be taken at the same time every day. Do not stop taking this medication even if your symptoms are going away.

    Side effects include irritability, agitation and other behaviors. Some patients may also develop suicidal thoughts and tendencies or become depressed.

    Less common side effects include bloody nose, stomach pain, chills, body aches, flu or cold-like symptoms, congestion, cough or hoarseness, productive cough, diarrhea, dry or sore throat, difficulty breathing, general feeling of illness, fever, headache, loss of appetite, joint pains, muscle aches, pain or tenderness around the cheekbones or eyes, nausea, a shivery feeling, sneezing, shortness of breath, stuffy or runny nose, sweating, wheezing, swollen neck glands, trauma, trouble sleeping or swallowing, unusual weakness or tiredness, vomiting, voice changes and weakness. Rare side effects may include pus in your urine.

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    Resources

    Exercise-Induced Asthma: Treatment & Medication - http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/88849-treatment

    Albuterol - http://www.drugs.com/albuterol.html

    Intal - http://www.drugs.com/cons/intal.html

    Azmacort Inhl - http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-4182-Azmacort+Inhl.aspx?drugid=4182&drugname=Azmacort+Inhl

    Beclovent - http://www.drugs.com/pdr/beclovent.html

    montelukast (Oral route) - http://www.drugs.com/cons/montelukast.html