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Asthma and Over the Counter Treatment

Asthma is a disease in which there is a brief, temporary narrowing of the airways in the lungs, referred to as bronchospasm. This narrowing prevents air from moving in and out of the lungs easily. As a result, an asthmatic patient has episodes when breathing is difficult. An asthmatic episode can resolve spontaneously or may require treatment.

Asthmatic patients and their physicians may select from a wide variety of prescription medication including OTC drugs.

Epinephrine and ephedrine once were the only effective medications for treating asthma. Beginning in the 1980s, newer medications were introduced that target more of the abnormal conditions in asthma and do so more effectively than epinephrine or ephedrine.

OTC treatment
Epinephrine acts by relaxing the muscles of the airways, thereby opening up the airways and allowing air to flow in and out of the lungs more easily. Ephedrine also relaxes the muscles of the airways.

Ephedrine poses a greater chance of causing adverse drug effects or drug interactions than epinephrine because it must be absorbed into the body to be effective. Nervousness, sleeplessness, anxiety, nausea, reduced appetite, rapid heart beat, tremors (the "shakes"), and urinary retention are the most common adverse effects. Immediate medical attention may be necessary for these side effects.

- All asthma patients should avoid beta-blocker drugs.
- Patients should avoid known triggers of asthma attacks (for example, exercise or allergens).
- Some patients with asthma must avoid aspirin and other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
- All patients with asthma should seek professional advise from their physicians on how to optimally manage their condition.


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