Asthma Medications List

asthma medications listLast Updated: Jan 27, 2015 | By Quentin Moore
Asthma is a long-term disease of the lung that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Asthma is characterized by wheezing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing. Medication is not available to cure asthma, but symptoms can be controlled and managed. Two classes of medications are often used in the management of asthma: anti-inflammatories, which help reduce swelling and mucus production, and bronchodilators, which help to allow more air in and out of the lungs.

Albuterol Sulfate HFA

Albuterol is a class of short-acting beta agonists that help to relieve asthma-related symptoms. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it works within 20 minutes and relieves symptoms for about four to six hours. Albuterol is best used prior to exercise to help prevent asthma symptoms that may occur as a result of exercise. Common brand names include Pro Air HFA, Proventil HFA and Ventolin HFA.


Fluticasone is a long-acting beta2-agonist that provides better control of asthma than other medications, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Fluticasone takes longer to work than other asthma medications, but can provide benefits for up to 12 hours. Side effects may include nervousness or shakiness, hyperactivity or an increased heart rate. A common

brand is Flovent HFA.


Inhaled corticosteroids are effective in reducing inflammation of the airway and the production of mucus. They help in preventing symptoms and are appropriate for long-term control. Brand names of budesonide include Pulmicort and Symbicort. Side effects may include thrush and hoarseness. It is important to rinse the mouth after using to assist in prevention of these side effects.

Nedocromil Sodium

This medication helps prevent and control asthma symptoms and usually takes three to four weeks to start working. For long-term control, nedocromil sodium often needs to be taken two to four times each day. Side effects are minimal for this class of medication. Tilade is a brand of this medication.


Theophylline is used for more severe and difficult to control asthma cases. This long-acting medication should be taken daily. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is important to monitor doses with blood monitoring. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or hyperactivity. Antibiotics and cigarette smoke may affect the body's response to the medication. Common brand names include Uniphyl, Theo-Dur and Slo-Bid.

Combination Medications

Certain medications may include two different medications to decrease the number of inhalers needed and to help decrease the time for treatment. Common examples include a combination of fluticasone and salmeterol, which produces the medication Advair.

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