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Medications for Asthma FAQ

Q. What are antihistamines, and what are their side effects?

A. Antihistamines are a preventative medication used mainly to combat hay fever, itchy/watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and dizziness, and should be taken before going outdoors. If the latter symptoms trigger your asthma, then proceeding to take antihistamines should be discussed with your doctor. Side effects include sleepiness, confusion, dry mouth, and irritability.

Q. What are decongestants, and what are their side effects?

A. Decongestants are used to decrease nasal congestion and swelling. They work by constricting blood vessels in the nose leading to a decrease in nasal congestion. If nasal congestion persists, taking an antihistamine in combination with a decongestant may be recommended by your doctor. Side effects of decongestants include a rise in blood pressure, which makes the heart work faster. Decongestants are not dangerous for children due to their strong hearts.

Q. Are allergy shots useful in controlling asthma?

A. No, allergy shots do not have any relevance to asthma.

Q. Can you overdose by taking too much asthma medication?

A. Of course, you can overdose by taking too much of any medication. All the more reason to check with your doctor often and follow the management plan discussed.

Q. What is the function of the bronchodilator, and is it safe?

A. Bronchodilators are strictly treatment-based medications used to treat symptoms of wheezing or coughing and prescribed for a short period of time when symptoms are at their worst. They do not prevent airway conditions associated with asthma attacks. Its main function is to help breathing by relaxing the tight ring of muscle around the airways. Bronchodilators are safe to use; however, there are side effects, including jitteriness, insomnia, and loss of appetite.

Q. How does a nebulizer compare to a bronchodilator?

A. The two are very similar in function, but a nebulizer is the machine used to administer albuterol, the most common form of bronchodilators.

Q. What is the best way to use an inhaler?

A. An inhaler is a pressurized canister with measured doses of medication inside. Squeezing the canister emits misty medication into your mouth that goes directly to your lungs, if used the proper way. To do this properly, place your lips on the inhaler’s mouthpiece, and squeeze the canister while inhaling at the same time.

Q. Is a peak flow meter useful, and what do the numbers mean?

A. If you have asthma and value your life, then a peak flow meter is a useful tool to have around. Peak flow meters are devices created to help manage asthma, especially during physical activity. They measure daily variations of your breathing and let you know when your body has reached its physical limitation. Your doctor will check your weight, height, gender, and other physical attributes to determine your optimal number. The higher the number, the lower you risk for an asthma attack.

Q. Why are anti-inflammatory agents useful in asthma relief?

A. Asthma attacks occur when the airways become inflamed and filled with mucus, making it difficult, and in some cases, impossible to breathe. Anti-inflammatories relieve these symptoms and make breathing easier.

Q. My child hates to take pills. Are there alternative forms of medication?

A. Many asthma medications come in liquid form, as well as those administered through a bronchodilator. Check with a doctor for the one that’s just right for your child.

Q. How do I store bronchodilators and other asthma medications, and do they get stale?

A. Everything has an expiration date, even bronchodilators. Check them often for freshness as expired medication loses efficiency overtime.

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