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What every patient should know about asthma & allergy.

SOME BASICS ON YOUR MEDICATIONS

More than 41 million people suffer with asthma and allergies. Fortunately, today there are many effective medications available to treat these conditions. The following information is designed to help asthma and allergy sufferers better understand a few of the most commonly used medications for these conditions.

ANTIHISTAMINES

THEIR ROLE

Antihistamines are used to relieve or prevent the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and other allergies. They work by preventing the effects of histamine - a substance produced by the body during an allergic reaction. Antihistamines, which come in tablet, capsule, liquid or injection form, are available both over-the-counter and by prescription.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS

Most antihistamines may cause drowsiness, but newer antihistamines (terfenadine, astemazole, and others not yet released) rarely cause this side effect. Other common side effects include dry mouth, difficult urination, constipation, and confusion. Some children may experience nightmares, unusual excitement or nervousness, restlessness, or irritability.

DECONGESTANTS

THEIR ROLE

Decongestants are used to treat nasal congestion and other symptoms associated with colds and allergies. They work by narrowing blood vessels, leading to the clearing of nasal congestion. Decongestants are available both over-the-counter and by prescription. The commonly used forms are liquid and tablet. Nose sprays or drops may be used for acute situations but for no more than two to three days in a row or as prescribed by your physician. Over-the-counter nasal sprays, if used for a prolonged period of time, can cause "rebound rhinitis" or nasal congestion symptoms.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS

Decongestants can cause nervousness, sleeplessness, or elevation in blood pressure. If the nasal spray form is used too long, it may cause even more nasal congestion.

BRONCHODILATORS

THEIR ROLE

Bronchodilators are used to relieve coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. They work by opening up the bronchial tubes - the air passages in the lungs - so that more air can flow through. Bronchodilators include beta-agonists and theophylline and come in inhaled, tablet, capsule or injectible forms.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS

Bronchodilators may cause nausea, vomiting, headache, nervousness, restlessness, and insomnia, especially in elderly patients and children who are more sensitive to the effects of medications.

ANTI-INFLAMATORY AGENTS

THEIR ROLE

Cromolyn and corticosteroids reduce the inflammation in the airways. Inflammation causes the bronchi (main branches leading from the throat to the lungs) to become "twitchy." A "twitchy" airway is more sensitive to various asthma triggers such as exercise, cold air, smoke, cold viruses and allergens.

Anti-inflammatory medications usually are prescribed in the inhaled form. Corticosteroids, in some cases, are prescribed in oral form.

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS

Long-term use of corticosteroids, particularly oral steroids, is not recommended, except in cases of uncontrolled asthma.

Long-term oral corticosteroid use may cause side effects such as ulcers, weight gain, cataracts, weakening bones, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and easy bruising.

Possible side effects from anti-inflammatory medications include cough and hoarseness.

Patients with questions and concerns about asthma and allergy medications should discuss them with their allergist.
     MEDICATION NAMES
     ANTIHISTAMINES

Astemizole
Bromodiphenhydramine
Carbinoxamine
Clemastine
Dexchlorpheniramine
Diphenhydramine
Doxylamine
Loratadine
Pyrilamine
Tripelennamine
Azatadine
Brompheniramine
Chlorpheniramine
Cyproheptadine
Dimenhydrinate
Diphenylpyraline
Hydroxyzine
Phenindamine
Terfenadine
Triprolidine
     DECONGESTANTS

Phenylephrine
Pseudoephedrine
Phenylpropanolamine
     BRONCHODILATORS, ADRENERGIC - Inhaled

Albuterol
Epinephrine
Isoetharine
Metaproterenol
Procaterol
Terbutaline
Bitolterol
Fenoterol
Isoproterenol
Pirbuterol
Racepinephrine
     BRONCHDILATORS, ADRENERGIC - Oral/Injection

Albuterol
Epinephrine
Fenoterol
Metaproterenol
Ephedrine
Ethylnorepinephrine
Isoproterenol
Terbutaline
     ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AGENTS (Adrenocorticoids)

Betamethasone
Cortisone
Hydrocortisone
Paramethasone
Prednisone
Corticotropin
Dexamethasone
Methylprednisolone
Prednisolone
Triamcinolone


STORING YOUR MEDICATION

1. Keep your medications away from heat and direct light. Do not store them in a bathroom medicine cabinet as the heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down.

2. Do not allow any medications in liquid form to freeze.

3. Do not keep outdated medicine and do not keep medicine once it is no longer needed. Dispose of your liquid and capsule form medications by flushing them down the toilet, unless otherwise indicated on the container.

4. Keep all medications out of the reach of children.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Academy of Allergy and Immunology
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Pamphlet by: American Academy of Allergy and Immunology
Article Type:Pamphlet
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Words:652
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