There are various treatments for asthma, including bronchodilator asthma inhalers, anti-inflammatory steroid medications and oral medications that are delivered via a breathing machine or nebulizer. Since there is no cure for asthma, treatment involves controlling asthma symptoms, reducing the need for quick-relief medications, maintaining good lung function and preventing asthma attacks. Ideally, asthma control allows the asthma sufferer to enjoy normal activity levels and sleep patterns, as stated by the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, or NHLBI.
Those suffering from asthma should have an asthma action plan in place, based on recommendation from the treating physician. This plan details daily treatments, including medications that must be taken and at what intervals. The plan should also detail when a doctor should be called or emergency treatment sought. Avoid asthma triggers as part of an asthma control plan, such as avoiding going outdoors when the pollen level is high, or being around pets if fur is a trigger, as recommended by the NHLBI.
Medicines for controlling asthma over the long term may also be recommended. Inhaled corticosteroids, nebulizer medication and injectable medications may be used in conjunction with immediate relief treatments to completely manage the condition, as mentioned by the NHLBI.
One of the most important treatments for asthma is inhaled steroids, notes WebMD. These medications and other anti-inflammatory drugs work by reducing mucus production and swelling in the airways, making users less likely to react to triggers that result in asthma symptoms. Bronchodilators relax the muscles around the airways, helping to open the airways up so that the asthmatic can breathe better. Some bronchodilators are short-acting medications that work as rescue inhalers to provide fast relief of coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing. Asthma inhalers that deliver one or more types of medication are also available.
People who are unable to use handheld inhalers that deliver a dose of medication when inhaled may be prescribed treatments using asthma nebulizers. This type of treatment involves inhaling medication through a mouthpiece or mask. Treatment is delivered via a machine. The machine turns liquid medication into an inhalable mist that reaches the lungs more effectively. Breathing treatment lasts for a few minutes, making it more complicated and time-consumptive than a traditional asthma inhaler.
Prednisone, an oral corticosteroid, is also a treatment for asthma. The medicine reduces swelling in the airways, providing asthma symptom relief.