Quick-relief or rescue medications are used to quickly relax and open the airways and relieve symptoms during an asthma flare-up, or are taken before exercising if prescribed. These include: short-acting beta-agonists . These inhaled bronchodilator (brong-koh-DIE-lay-tur) medications include albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA, others), levalbuterol (Xopenex HFA) and pirbuterol (Maxair Autohaler). Quick-relief medications do not take the place of controller medications. If you rely on rescue relief more than twice a week, it is time to see your allergist.
Because asthma causes resistance, or obstruction, to exhaled air, it is called an obstructive lung disease. The medical term for such lung conditions is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD . COPD is actually a group of diseases that includes not only asthma but also chronic bronchitis and emphysema . Some people with asthma do not have COPD . These are the individuals whose lung function returns to normal when they are not having an attack. Others will have a process of lung airway remodeling from chronic, long-standing inflammation, usually untreated. This results in permanent abnormalities of their lung function with symptoms of obstructive lung disease occurring all the time. These people are categorized as having one of the class of diseases known as COPD.
If you have asthma, there's a good chance that an underlying allergy —whether it's to dust mites, pollen, cockroaches, or cat dander—is playing a key role in your breathing problems. (About 60% to 90% of people with asthma have allergic asthma.)
The first step is to avoid the allergen, but that's not always possible or sufficient to stop symptoms, like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
That's where medication comes in. Here are some common drugs used to treat allergic asthma.
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