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Exercise-Induced Asthma (cont.)

What Medications Treat Exercise-Induced Asthma?

Inhaled, short-acting beta2-agonist bronchodilators are the medications most often used to prevent asthma attacks in exercise-induced asthma.

  • Use two to four puffs five to 30 minutes before exercising. The medication works best if taken just before exercising.
  • This class of drugs is chemically related to adrenaline, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
  • Inhaled beta2-agonists work rapidly (within minutes) to open the breathing passages. They relax the muscles of the breathing passages, dilating the passages and decreasing the resistance to exhaled airflow, making it easier to breathe.
  • They are effective in most people with exercise-induced asthma.
  • The effects last as long as four to six hours.
  • They have no effect on the underlying cause of the asthma attack.
  • They can also be used to relieve symptoms if an attack occurs.
  • Side effects include rapid heartbeat and shakiness.
  • Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin) is the most frequently used beta2-agonist medication.

Longer-acting (12-hour) beta2-agonist inhalers, including salmeterol (Serevent) and formoterol (Foradil), are also available. These are not used alone for asthma. They should only be taken in combination of inhaled corticosteroids. Usually this treatment is reserved for asthma patients with more significant disease burden than exercise-induced asthma.

Inhaled corticosteroids such as beclomethasone (Qvar), fluticasone (Flovent), and mometasone (Asmanex) are also effective therapy for exercise-induced asthma. For effect, these work better if taken a few hours before exercise.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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