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Asthma Medications

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a lung disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the breathing passages of the lungs (bronchi and bronchioles).

What Causes Asthma?

Asthma is caused by chronic (ongoing, long-term) inflammation of these airways. Individuals with asthma are highly sensitive to various "triggers" that lead to inflammation of the airways. When the inflammation is triggered by one or more of these factors, the air passages swell and fill with mucus. The muscles within the breathing passages contract and narrow (bronchospasm). The narrow airways make it hard to exhale (breathe out from the lungs).

What Are the Risks of Asthma?

Asthma causes symptoms like wheezing, breathing difficulties, chest pain or tightness, and spasmodic coughing that often worsens at night. Asthma may impair individuals' ability to exercise, to engage in outdoor activities, to have pets, or to tolerate environments with smoke, dust, or mold. Although asthma can be controlled with medications, asthma attacks vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening. Over the past several decades, the number of asthma attacks that result in death has increased dramatically.

Last Reviewed 9/11/2017

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Emergency Medical Treatment for Asthma

If you are in the emergency room, treatment will be started while the evaluation is still going on.

  • You may be given oxygen through a face mask or a tube that goes in your nose.
  • You may be given aerosolized beta-agonist medications through a face mask or a nebulizer, with or without an anticholinergic agent.
  • Another method of providing inhaled beta-agonists is by using a metered dose inhaler or MDI. An MDI delivers a standard dose of medication per puff. MDIs are often used along with a "spacer" or holding chamber. A dose of six to eight puffs is sprayed into the spacer, which is then inhaled. The advantage of an MDI with a spacer is that it requires little or no assistance from the respiratory therapist.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Asthma »

Asthma is a common disorder that accounts for almost 2 million ED visits each year in the United States.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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