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When Rescue Inhalers Aren't Enough

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For some people with mild asthma who only suffer from occasional episodes, a rescue inhaler might be enough. But other times, a rescue inhaler alone may not be enough. You may have so many asthma attacks that you're using your inhaler almost constantly. The inhaler may also not completely put an end to your attacks as you would like it to. Luckily, there are other asthma treatments available. Here are a few to talk to your doctor about if rescue inhalers have not been enough for you.


This class of medications works by blocking the action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, or ACh. This has a number of effects on the body, but the one most relevant to asthma is the blocking of mucous production. If you often have a lot of mucous accumulation before, during, or after an asthma attack, then these medications are probably a good option. The medication can also reduce muscle spasms in the respiratory tract, which are a key feature of asthma attacks. Usually, anticholinergics are taken daily for asthma attacks. Their goal is to prevent attacks in the first place, rather than treating an attack that's ongoing.


Not all asthma attacks are allergy-related, but if you're having a lot of attacks lately, it could be because you're being exposed to a substance you're allergic to. Getting your allergies under control may be the secret to putting an end to your asthma attacks too. There are a number of antihistamines that your doctor can prescribe to alleviate your asthma attacks and any other allergy symptoms. Some can cause drowsiness and are best taken at night, and others are nondrowsy. If you operate heavy machinery, make sure you ask your doctor for an antihistamine that won't make you drowsy.


In the most severe cases, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids for your asthma. These medications are wonderful at reducing inflammation. When used to manage asthma, they are usually administered in an inhaled form. Corticosteroids can cause some side effects, such as weight gain and an upset stomach. Many people take them without experiencing these problems, but they are often considered a last resort for this reason.

If rescue inhalers alone are not managing your asthma, don't give up. There are other treatments out there that can give you more bang for your buck. Talk to your doctor about each of these options, and see which asthma treatment they think is best suited to your needs.