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What Medication Is Used For Severe Asthma

Choosing The Right Asthma Delivery Device


Have you ever wondered how your doctor decides which is the best way for you to take your asthma medicine?

Options include syrups, granules, tablets, or capsules that you swallow. Or they are aerosols and powders that you inhale from a metered-dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler or nebulizer. Attaching a valved holding chamber to an MDI allows patients to direct the medicine into the airways by holding it and inhaling at their own speed.

Healthcare providers prescribe treatments effective in disease control. They also want treatments that are convenient for patients needs and lifestyles. You should be part of the decision process. Discuss with your healthcare provider your needs and lifestyle.

Here are 5 patient-focused factors that are part of the decision process:

  • Age. This is always an important consideration, but especially with infants. Infants have smaller airways and lungs and breathe faster. National asthma guidelines say children should use a holding chamber when using an MDI. This is because the aerosolized spray comes out faster than most kids can inhale.
  • Ability to follow directions. This consideration crosses all age groups. It includes when and how to take a particular medication. Even adults may confuse the directions for using MDIs and DPIs.
  • If your asthma symptoms persist, talk with your doctor about the need to adjust your medications. Talk with your doctor about concerns over cost. Any barrier to using your medication can affect your asthma control.

    Review Criteria And Data Extraction

    All original articles were considered, excluding case reports, audits, guidelines, editorials, management/implementation strategies, conference abstracts and study protocols. We excluded animal studies. No limits were set on study design, sample size, location or follow-up. Eligible patient populations included both children and adults using asthma controller therapy: ICS, long-acting 2-agonists or fixed combination therapies of LABA and ICS. Due to incomparability, we excluded studies that looked at leukotriene receptor antagonists or xanthines only.

    The first author assessed the eligibility of studies from their titles and abstracts, excluding those that were not relevant. The full texts of eligible papers were assessed independently for eligibility by two authors and data were extracted into a customised data extraction Excel form. Third party adjudication was foreseen in case of disagreement.

    Assessment Of Methodological Quality

    All included studies underwent a formal evaluation according to the NewcastleOttawa Scale, a set of criteria established and used in previous systematic reviews of observational studies , which was modified for the purpose of this review. All studies were independently rated by two reviewers , to assess the quality based on five parameters: overall design, selection of participants, exposure assessment, outcome ascertainment and control for extraneous factors. Each parameter received 0, 1 or 2 points . The total score represented the sum of all five parameters. This score was used as a relative measure of data quality.

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    How Common Is Severe Asthma

    It is estimated that as many as 250,000 Canadians suffer from Severe Asthma. Fatalities are higher in this group compared to patients with mild-to-moderate disease. Each year, about 250 Canadians die from asthma. Globally, 250,000 patients with asthma die prematurely on an annual basis because of their condition.

    What Are The Different Types Of Asthma Medicines And Treatments

    Severe Asthma Medications in Paediatrics

    There are four types of asthma medicines and treatments:

  • Quick-relief medicines These medicines work quickly to relieve sudden symptoms. You take them as needed and at the first sign of symptoms.
  • Controller medicines These medicines help control asthma by correcting the underlying changes in the airways, such as swelling and excess mucus. They can be one or a combination of medicines.
  • Combination of quick-relief and controller medicines These medicines are used for both short-term relief and control.
  • Biologics This type of treatment targets a cell or protein to prevent swelling inside the airways. They are for people with certain types of persistent asthma and are given by injection or infusion.
  • The difference between these asthma treatments can be confusing. It is important to understand what each treatment does and how they help your asthma. Learning how to use each correctly can you help keep your asthma well-controlled. Always take your medicines as directed by your doctor and follow your Asthma Action Plan.

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    What Is Asthma Medication

    Asthma medications are usually grouped into relievers and preventers. Preventers are used daily to prevent asthma symptoms, whereas reliever medicines are used when necessary to relieve symptoms.

    Asthma medications are usually grouped into preventers and relievers:

    • Preventers are used daily to prevent asthma symptoms.
    • Relievers are used when necessary to relieve symptoms.

    Most are taken using inhalers or “puffers”. Other asthma medicines come in the form of a dry powder or fine spray that is only released when you breathe in. Sometimes, medicine can be breathed in as a vapour through a nebuliser. Some asthma medications are in tablet form, including prednisone, which is usually only used to treat severe asthma flare-ups.

    It is very important to follow your doctors or pharmacists advice on using these medicines.

    You may need to use one or more asthma medications to manage your asthma. If you have severe asthma, you will probably need other medications as well. Asthma Australia has more information on the treatment of severe asthma.

    People with asthma should also have a written asthma action plan to help them recognise worsening symptoms and know how to respond.

    There are 2 main types of asthma medication: relievers and preventers.

    How Can My Doctor And I Figure Out If My Reliever Medication Is Working

    Within 10 to 15 minutes of taking your reliever medication, you should be able to feel your breathing becoming easier. You can use your Asthma Action Planor asthma diary to track your symptoms and how they change after taking your medication.

    If you or your doctor want to get a more specific measure of how your lungs are working, you could try using a small, simple device called a peak flow meter. This is a handheld, tube-like device that you blow into. It measures how well air is moving in and out of your lungs. If you use a peak flow meter regularly, it provides useful information about how your asthma is affecting your lungs and how well your reliever medication is working to get things back to normal after an attack. Its especially helpful for people with moderate to severe asthma. Its also useful for people who have recently been diagnosed with asthma, to help them and their healthcare team figure out the best doses and combinations of controller and reliever medications.

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    Will I Have To Take Medicine All The Time

    Maybe not. Asthma is a chronic condition that is controllable. Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma. For that reason, you may have asthma symptoms when exposed to triggers. This is the case even if you dont have symptoms very often. Your triggers can change over time, and your treatment will depend on two things: how severe your asthma is, and how often you have symptoms. If your asthma is controlled, your treatment will focus on managing symptoms and treatment of episodes when they happen.

    If your symptoms happen at certain times and you know what caused them, you and your doctor can use this information to determine the best treatment. If, for example, you have seasonal asthma because of a specific pollen allergy, you may take medicines only when that pollen is in the air. But asthma that specific is not common. Many people with asthma take some form of medicine most or all of the time.

    Can Asthma Kill You

    Uncontrolled vs. Severe 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.

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    Types Of Severe Asthma

    There are two main categories of severe asthma Type-2 inflammation and Non-Type-2 inflammation. These categories are based on a persons response to treatment. Type-2 inflammation includes allergic asthma and eosinophilic asthma and Non-Type-2 inflammation includes non-eosinophilic asthma. For example, allergic asthma and e-asthma respond to treatment with inhaled corticosteroids and IgE -directed therapy or other biologics listed in the above table. Patients with Non-Type-2 inflammation, including non-eosinophilic asthma, generally do not respond well to inhaled corticosteroids. Allergic asthma and e-asthma have distinct biomarkers and treatment options available today. Treatments for non-eosinophilic asthma are currently being development.

    Allergic asthma is caused by exposure to allergens such as pollen, pet dander, molds, etc. Most people diagnosed with allergic asthma will also have a diagnosis of hay fever or rhinitis. For these patients, exposure to allergens causes the bodys immune system to produce immunoglobulin E, an antibody that attaches to certain cells and causes them to release chemicals creating an allergic reaction. When this happens, common symptoms are sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, severe allergic reactions , and increased airway sensitivity.

    Non-eosinophilic asthma includes neutrophilic, smooth-muscle mediated and mixed cells. People in this subgroup have few to no eosinophils in test results, and do not respond well to inhaled corticosteroids.

    Therapy In The Emergency Department

    Patients with mild-to-moderate asthma exacerbations may present to the emergency department to seek medical care. These patients should be treated as an out-patient when following the recommendation detailed above. Patients with severe or life-threatening asthma should always be managed in the emergency department. A focused, expedited history and physical examination should be carried out in all patients. It is critical to rule out other conditions that may mimic a severe asthma exacerbation, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure, pneumothorax, and myocardial infarction. In patients with a severe exacerbation, careful attention should be placed on the level of consciousness, oxygen saturation, breathing frequency, resting pulse, and blood pressure, and on the use of accessory respiratory muscles. Patients with severe asthma may have a fast deterioration of their clinical presentation, so continuous monitoring of these patients is warranted. In the advanced stages of an asthma exacerbation, the pulmonary physical examination may reveal a silent chest, which may herald impending respiratory failure. Patients with severe asthma should also be monitored for potential complications of asthma, such as pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, and anaphylaxis.

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    Top Tips For Keeping On Top Of Your Medicines

    Managing all your medicines can be challenging, especially if you also need medicines for other conditions, or to help you deal with conditions caused as a side effect from taking long-term steroids.

    Here are 5 top tips to help you keep on top of your daily medicines:

  • Get into a good routine some people find it helpful to take their medicines at the same time, and in the same place, every day. Or to link taking their daily medicines to another activity they do every day, like brushing their teeth, or having their morning tea or coffee. You could use an app on your phone to set daily reminders, or keep a medicines diary or chart, which you tick off every day. Help anyone who lives with you to understand your medicines routine, so they can support you with it
  • Try using a tablet organiser to help you know what pills you need to take every day
  • Keep all your medicines in the same place, along with patient information leaflets, an up-to-date list of all your medicines and their doses, and your asthma action plan
  • Ask the pharmacist before using other over-the-counter medicines like painkillers, vitamins, herbal remedies and cold remedies
  • Set up repeat prescriptions and set a reminder, so you dont run out of essential medicines. For example, you could write order new meds on your calendar a week or so before you know youre due to run out.
  • Next review due February 2025

    Testing For Severe Asthma

    Asthma Medication

    Before you can be tested for severe asthma, you will need a referral from your primary healthcare asthma provider to either an asthma specialist or allergy specialist . The specialist will review your medical history, your current asthma treatment plan and do a physical exam to assess your symptoms. If the specialist thinks you may have severe asthma, they will discuss additional testing with you to determine your specific type. This often starts with testing to identify a biomarker.

    Biomarkers help determine what is causing the inflammation in your airways. Taking a blood sample, analyzing a mucus sample or taking a breathing test that measure substances in your breath droplets are all common tests doctors use. These tests are performed in a doctors office or an outpatient clinic setting. Your specialist will recommend one or more of these tests based on your medical history and current symptoms. Once the biomarkers are identified, your doctor can determine the type of severe asthma and the different treatment options that are available to treat that specific type.

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    Will I Still Need To Take My Inhalers

    Yes! It is very important that you continue to take all your other asthma medications and inhalers. Your doctor will tell you if you can decrease the dose of any of your other inhalers over time if your asthma is under good control.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/14/2019.


    How Do You Take Asthma Medications

    Asthma inhalers

    Asthma inhalers are the most common and effective way to deliver asthma medicine to your lungs. Theyâre available in several types that work in different ways. Some deliver one medication. Others contain two medications. Your doctor might give you:

    • A metered-dose inhaler, which uses a small aerosol canister to push out a short burst of medication through a plastic mouthpiece
    • A dry powder inhaler, which releases the medicine only when you take a deep breath

    Asthma nebulizer

    If youâre having trouble using small inhalers, your doctor may recommend a nebulizer. This machine changes asthma medications from a liquid to a mist so itâs easier to get the medicine into your lungs. It also has a mouthpiece or mask that makes it a good option for infants, small children, older adults, or anyone who has trouble using inhalers with spacers. It takes a few more minutes to use than an inhaler.

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    Will Medicine Help Me Sleep Better

    Yes, if you have nighttime asthma symptoms. Many people wake up with asthma symptoms such as coughing or wheezing. You can control nighttime symptoms by taking asthma medicines as directed by your doctor.

    Removing triggers where you sleep may help you sleep better. Many people are allergic to dust mites and mold found in bedding materials. Using mattress or pillow encasements can help contain those allergens. Dehumidifiers can also be helpful to reduce the humidity in your home that dust mites and mold need to exist. Using air cleaners in your bedroom may also help reduce your exposure to allergens and irritants .

    What Are Mast Cell Inhibitors For Asthma

    Relief for asthma sufferers with new medication added to the PBS | 7NEWS

    Cromolyn sodium and nedocromil are used to prevent allergic symptoms like runny nose, itchy eyes, and asthma. The response is not as potent as that of corticosteroid inhalers.

    How mast cell inhibitors work

    These drugs prevent the release of histamine and other chemicals from mast cells that cause asthma symptoms when you come into contact with an allergen . The drug is not effective until four to seven days after you begin taking it.

    Who should not use these medications

    Individuals who are allergic to any components of the inhaled product should not take these drugs.


    Frequent dosing is necessary, since the effects last only six to eight hours. Mast cell inhibitors are available as a liquid to be used with a nebulizer, a capsule that is placed in a device that releases the capsule powder to inhale, and handheld inhalers.

    Drug or food interactions

    Since these drugs have little or no effect beyond the area applied, they are unlikely to interact with other drugs. Mast cell inhibitors may cause a cough, irritation or unpleasant taste.

    Side effects

    These drugs are only effective for prevention and are not to be used to treat an acute asthma attack.

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    Figure : Stepwise Approach To Asthma Management For Children Ages 5

    ICS=inhaled corticosteroids, LABA=long-acting beta agonists, LTRA=Leukotriene receptor antagonists, SABA=short-acting beta agonistsAdditional Figure 2 notes

    • Every step: Reduce exposure to triggers, exercise, eat healthy, and manage stress
    • Steps 2, 3, and 4: Consider immunotherapy for allergies
    • Steps 5 and 6: Consider adding asthma biologics

    Association Between Exacerbation And Objective Adherence In Paediatric Studies

    Four out of six paediatric cohort studies using refill data reported that the risk of asthma exacerbation was 2168% lower for children who were more adherent to their asthma controller medication compared with those who were less adherent . Rustet al. observed this protective effect only if adherence was measured as controller-to-total ratio. In contrast, if adherence was measured as proportion of prescribed days covered , lower PPDC was associated with lower emergency department/hospitalisation exacerbations.

    A previous study in 2003 by Buksteinet al. found no significant differences between fluticasone and montelukast users in the frequency of asthma attacks requiring hospital admissions, acute office visits or emergency department visits, but found a significant difference in the amount of OCS, which was higher for fluticasone than for montelukast.

    Finally, Elkoutet al. reported that the risk of being prescribed OCS in the year after first prescription of controller therapy was 243% higher in children with adequate MPR than those with inadequate MPR, although this difference was not statistically significant.

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    What Are The Types Of Biologic Therapy Drugs For Treating Asthma


    • Xolair is a medication for patients with poorly controlled asthma and allergies to year-round allergens like dust mites, pet dander, or cockroach debris. Xolair blocks the antibody that causes an allergic asthma response.
    • Xolair is given as one or two subcutaneous injections , depending on the dose prescribed.
    • It is given every 2 or 4 weeks, depending on the dose prescribed.
    • After you receive a dose of medication, most infusion centers will monitor you for a period of time to make sure you do not have any reactions to the medication.
    • The most common side effects with Xolair are:
    • Muscle aches


    • Dupixent is also a medication for patients with poorly controlled eosinophilic asthma and works by blocking a number of inflammatory cells that affect patients with asthma
    • Dupixent is administered as a shot under the skin.
    • It is given once every other week.
    • You will receive the first three doses of Dupixent in clinic so that we can teach you how to inject it. You will be monitored for one hour after the first dose to make sure you do not have a reaction to the medication. You will be monitored for 30 minutes after the next two doses. After that, Dupixent can be administered at home by yourself.
    • The most common side effects with Dupixent are:
    • Sore throat


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