Asthma Medications - What Are Your Options In The Fight Against This Condition?

Asthma Medications - What Are Your Options In The Fight Against This Condition?

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Asthma can be a debilitating condition and one that will need frequent management. So, which are the best type of asthma medications to treat your asthma?

As a long-term condition affecting the airways in the lungs, being newly diagnosed with asthma can be an overwhelming and daunting time

With 5.4 million people in the UK diagnosed as having asthma, it may be comforting to know that you’re not alone in learning to live with the condition. But there is still ongoing research into the various types of asthma and the best ways in which to treat them.

From the initial diagnosis to scary symptoms and various medication options on offer, how do you know which one will work best for you?

Let’s look at the symptoms of Asthma

To work out the best type of medication for your asthma, you’ll need to know which symptoms can come with your condition.

If you have asthma, you may find that the symptoms come and go

And you may well also find that you experience all of them.

It could be the case, however, that you experience just a couple of these symptoms and are unsure whether or not you actually are suffering with asthma. 

Odds are, that if you have long term issues with breathing when you engage in exercise, or you experience frequent chest infections, asthma may well be on the cards.

So, let’s look at the key symptoms:


*Tightness in the chest*



The goal of management is for people to be free from symptoms and able to lead a normal, active life and most people who have been diagnosed with asthma will live completely ‘normal’ lives, experiencing just a few symptoms

However, under 10% of people with the condition have what is known as severe asthma and this will have an impact on the medication taken in order to treat it. 

Allergic Asthma is also another debilitating condition which people can be diagnosed with, and will come with various treatment options.

Types of Asthma Medication

With different types of asthma come different types of medication… And it can be a confusing time trying to figure out what you need to take, how often you need to take it and the best ways in which to administer such medication.

So, let’s take a look at the treatment options…

A Reliever Inhaler

Also known as Salbutamol, this type of inhaler is used to *relieve* – hence the name – symptoms of asthma and COPD such as coughing, wheezing and feeling breathless. It works by sending the airway muscles leading into the lungs, into relaxation. This makes it easier to breathe.

If you only experience very mild symptoms, this reliever inhaler will be your go to medication. This could well be the case if you come into frequent contact with a known trigger, such as pollen, pet dander or house dust mites. In cases like these, your doctor may just prescribe you a reliever inhaler to use when you get symptoms. 

Available solely on prescription, Salbutamol comes in an inhaler (puffer) and this reliever inhaler is usually blue.

Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s GP has stated that “There are a very few people who just need to be prescribed a reliever inhaler for when they get symptoms. Most people with asthma benefit from a regular preventer inhaler taken every day to prevent symptoms coming on.”

In this case, it’s imperative that you keep an eye on your symptoms, and if you notice you’re using your reliever inhaler three times a week or more, visit your GP to see about obtaining a preventer inhaler alongside. It’s better to be on the safe side when it comes to managing your asthma medication.

A Reliever + A Preventer Inhaler

If your asthma symptoms are prevalent three or more times a week, or you’re at the point where your symptoms are preventing you from getting a sound night’s sleep, you’ll need to use a preventer inhaler alongside your reliever one. 

With 90% of the NHS asthma budget being spent on medicines, it’s important to ensure that preventative methods are utilized as much as possible. So, take a trip to your GP to obtain a preventer inhaler on prescription.

They are also known as Steroid Inhalers, due to the fact that they can prevent symptoms and help you to live a normal, healthy life.

Preventer inhalers vary by colour and dose, but are often brown.

Common types include beclometasone, budesonide, fluticasone and mometasone

Your preventer inhaler keeps you well with your asthma over time by preventing the inflammation in your airways. Be sure to take one or two puffs from your inhaler in the morning and one or two puffs in the evening.

A preventer inhaler will only work if it’s used every day, so it’s incredibly important not to miss a dose, even when you feel as though you are getting better.

A Reliever Inhaler, Preventer Inhaler + An Ltra Tablet

Adding more armour in the fight against asthma, this combination will be effective if you’ve noticed that you’re still experiencing symptoms when using your preventer inhaler in the correct way, every day.

To further aid treatment, your GP might prescribe you a Leukotriene Receptor Antagonist tablet or LTRA. The most common type being Montelukast

Alongside your reliever inhaler to relieve symptoms and your preventer inhaler to prevent symptoms, this small beige tablet will pack a big punch and help to stop your airways from becoming inflamed.

A Combination Inhaler

If the LTRA isn’t getting rid of your symptoms as fully as it should be, then it might be time for your doctor to offer a combination inhaler. 

This type of inhaler can be varying colours and combines two kinds of medicine in one device: 

  • Long acting reliever medicine, which gives ongoing relief from symptoms such as breathlessness and a tight chest.
  • Preventer medicine that helps to prevent inflammation in your airways long term.

Combination inhalers can be prescribed to both adults and children. Common examples of combination inhalers are Seretide, Symbicort and Fostair.

Other Add-On Treatments

Some more severe types of asthma still don’t respond fully to more commonly prescribed medications. In this case, your GP may choose to trial a higher dose combination inhaler alongside further *add-on treatments*

A different kind of long acting reliever or another add-on treatment called theophylline. This special drug can help to relieve breathlessness by relaxing muscles in your airways, ensuring optimum air flow.

If you’re still finding that the above asthma medications are not managing your condition in the way that you require, it may be time for your GP to refer you to an asthma specialist.

*What about Allergic Asthma?*

Allergic asthma has seen a rise in recent years.

If you have allergic asthma, your symptoms are caused by an allergic reaction when you come into contact with an specific allergen. This will then trigger an allergic response.

The most frequent types of allergens include pollen, pet dander and dust mites.

So, what are the medication options for allergic asthma?

  • Allergy shots. 

Allergy shots – also known as immunotherapy – can be an option for people who are unable to avoid triggers that set off their allergic asthma. This can be the case for those who suffer with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or allergies such as mould.

From initial skin tests to work your your allergen triggers, you’ll receive a whole host of injections containing small doses of those allergens.

The overall aim is to lose sensitivity to those allergens.

  • Omalizumab

Various studies have shown Omalizumab (Xolair) as an effective way to treat asthma triggered by airborne allergens, such as pollen and pet dander. If you suffer with such allergies, your immune system will create allergy-causing antibodies as a way in which to attack these substances.

If your GP decided that Omalizumab is the best course of action for your allergic asthma, it will work by blocking the action of these antibodies, reducing your immune system reaction that causes allergy and asthma symptoms.

**Anyone who gets an injection of this drug should be monitored closely by health professionals in case of a severe reaction.**

  • Allergy medications

There are various allergy medications on offer, from nasal sprays to antihistamines and decongestants. 

Allergy medications are available over-the-counter and in prescription form. Primarily used for help with allergic rhinitis, these medications are not substitutes for asthma medications.

Speak with your GP or asthma nurse to find out which ones could help you.