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Online learning resources for diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and nutrition.
Diabetes 101: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels, and your diet.
Diabetes 201: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugars, and your diet.
Asthma 101: Learn more about asthma and dealing with shortness of breath.
Hypertension 101: Learn more about hypertension and managing your blood pressure.
Nutrition 101: Learn more about improving your nutrition and diet

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Lesson 5: Asthma Treatments

Classy medications: What exactly goes into these inhalers?

There are actually different classes of asthma medication, even different medications that will be taken with an inhaler, under certain circumstances. It can be a lot to keep track of, so we've condensed the type and typical usage of each medication in this handy guide below.

Primary inhaled asthma medications include:

Bronchodilators are typically used as short-term "rescue" medications for immediate relief of acute asthma symptoms. They open up the bronchial tubes by relaxing the smooth muscle of the airways so that more air can flow through. Beta-agonists, theophylline and ipratropium bromid are some examples of bronchiodilators. They come in inhaled, tablet, capsule, liquid or injectable forms. Some names are albuterol, bitolterol, pirbuterol and terbutaline. Salmeterol is a long-acting beta2 agonist bronchodilator that is used on a long-term maintenance basis with anti-inflammatory medication. As with inhaled corticosteroids, if you are taking Salmeterol, continue to take it even if you are feeling great.

Inhaled corticosteroidsare anti-inflammatory medications that have been used as an effective asthma treatment since 1948! Don't worry though, you won't develop bulging muscles from using this medication. These steroids are not at all like the anabolic steroids used by athletes to enhance performance. Inhaled steroid medications decrease inflammation in your airways, constriction of your bronchial tubes and mucus levels. Even if you're feeling relatively symptom-free, continue taking your prescribed inhaled corticosteroids because they are long-term maintenance medications and will help to lesson your asthma symptoms overall. Some names of inhaled corticosteroids are beclomethasone, budesonide, flunisolide, fluticasone, triamcinolone and acetonide.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as cromolyn sodium or nedocromil, decrease inflammation and can help improve asthma symptoms, especially in patients with mild persistent asthma or exercise-induced asthma. The are used as long-term control medications and are less effective than inhaled corticosteroids, but rarely cause side effects.

Assignment #3

You probably know the names of major asthma medications, but wouldn't it be great to know about more of them, how they work, and how they are administered? We can help! Click here for a handy chart:

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