Health And Medicine: What Are The Best Asthma Nebulizer Medications

For prevention and relief of asthma, inhalers and pills aren't your only option. Several medications can be used with nebulizers.

Infants and young children can be very difficult in general when it comes to giving them medicine. Even older children may have issues with taking their medicine. But when it comes to asthma, which can be a life-threatening condition when it flares up in the form of an asthma attack, getting medication is critical. It can mean the difference between having an attack or not, being able to breathe or gasping for air, and staying at home or running off to the emergency room.

For this reason, nebulizers, which turn medication into an easily breathable mist, are often used for infants and young children who are not able to use inhalers effectively. Older children, or even adults, who don't like inhalers or don't use them well, might consider nebulizers, even though treatment with them takes longer than with inhalers.

Note that many asthma medications cannot be used with nebulizers, and are available only in inhalers, as pills or injections, and other forms. Also, remember that no list can ever be comprehensive, as new medications come onto the market and recommendations for usage can change. Because of this, make sure to consult with a medical professional. That being said, here's a quick roundup of what's out there for nebulizer-friendly asthma medications:

RESCUE/QUICK-RELIEF MEDICATIONS

These kinds of medications are used to deal with the symptoms of sudden, severe flare-ups of asthma.

Albuterol - This is one of the most common inhaled asthma medications and is available in various brand names, including Proventil and Ventolin. Albuterol usually gives relief within 5 to 15 minutes after inhalation, and can be used every 3 to 4 hours.

Xopenex - A newer form of albuterol that is significantly more potent than regular albuterol. As such, lower doses can be used, and fewer side effects may be suffered.



PREVENTIVE/LONG-TERM MEDICATIONS

These medications are used to manage asthma symptoms and triggers so that asthma attacks either won't occur at all or will occur less often.

Atrovent - This anticholinergic drug is a bronchodilator that works best when used with a short-acting beta 2-agonist inhaler. It takes about 60 minutes before it begins to work. Side effects are minor, with dry throat being most common. If the medication gets in the eyes, it may cause blurred vision for a short period of time.

Steroids - Corticosteroids are a mainstay of asthma treatment, and bear no resemblance to the risky anabolic steroids that athletes use to build muscle. They are generally available only in inhaler form, but there is at least one that is available in nebulizer form that has been approved for children: Pulmicort. Steroids need only be inhaled once or twice a day for most patients.

Cromolyn - Most commonly known under the brand name Intal, this antihistamine acts in much the same way a steroid medication but typically with fewer side effects. The drawback is that it generally needs to be taken three or four times a day, which is twice as often as a steroid.

CONCLUSION

Again, consult your family physician or pediatrician to determine what medications are best for your child (or for you), and for the specific kind of asthma involved. Some medications may interact adversely with other medications being taken, and some medications are not approved for (or at least haven't been very well tested) very young children. Also remember that nebulizers aren't a substitute for medical care. If you are using a nebulizer frequently to administer a rescue medication, see your doctor or go to the hospital.

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