asthma medication side effects


Asthma Medication Side Effects

Asthma medication may have saved your day many times, but its heroics carry a price tag. The more you rely on medication to relieve asthma symptoms, the more you are subject to its side effects.

It has helped our family tremendously, since we live in a high allergy area. We do not take as many allergy pills. - D. Cornett, Tennessee

Cortisone Drugs (Steroids)
Function: Reduce inflammation by minimizing swelling of airways.
Potential Side Effects: Death has occurred when treatment suddenly discontinued or tapered too quickly. Also allows infections to spread that wouldn't otherwise, even though patient still feels fine, which is dangerous since detection of infection is delayed. Others include acne, hairiness, stunted growth, increased appetite, weight gain, round face, abdominal pain, increased blood pressure, cataracts, dry mouth, bruising, fatigue, leg cramps, increased perspiration.

Function: Relieve coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and difficulty in breathing. Include beta-agonists, theophylline, and anticholinergics.
General Potential Side Effects: nausea, vomiting, headaches, nervousness, restlessness, insomnia. Side effects are especially prevalent in children and the elderly, who are more sensitive to medication side effects.
Specific Side Effects of Beta-Agonists: jitters, tremors, flushing, headaches, rapid and/or irregular heart rate, overuse can cause air tubes to spasm.
Specific Side Effects of Theophylline: intestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, shakiness, diarrhea, headaches, insomnia, depression, increased and/or irregular heart rate, leg cramps; difficult to determine correct dosage since it cannot be calculated using weight and age.
Specific Side Effects of Anticholinergics: headaches, dry mouth, coughing.

Function: Anti-inflammatory.
Potential Side Effects: Potentially life threatening if you switch from oral to inhaled form. Also reduces ability to cope with trauma, surgery, and infection. Other side effects include candidiasis (thrush), dysphonia, hoarseness, dry mouth, coughing, increased appetite, fluid retention, weight gain, mood swings, increased cholesterol, stunted growth, osteoporosis, dermal thinning, diabetes, cataracts, and muscle weakness.

Systemic Corticosteroids
Function: Minimizes exacerbation and reverses inflammation.
Potential Side Effects: growth suppression, osteoporosis, dermal thinning, increased cholesterol, diabetes, cataracts, muscle weakness, increased appetite, fluid retention, weight gain, mood alteration.

Aerosol Drugs
Function: Asthma relief.
Potential Side Effects: Use chemical propellant that can act as irritant for eyes, skin, or respiratory system. Can also enter bloodstream and dull nervous system.

Function: Help relieve allergy attacks, which are a major cause of asthma attacks.
Potential Side Effects: drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, confusion, nightmares, nervousness, restlessness, irritability

Function: Treat nasal congestion.
Potential Side Effects: nervousness, sleeplessness, increased blood pressure, even more nasal congestion if used too long

Anti-Inflammatory Medication
Function: Reduce inflammation in airways.
Potential Side Effects: ulcers, weight gain, cataracts, weakening bones, high blood pressure, increased blood sugar, easy bruising, coughing.

Intal or Cromolyn Sodium
Function: Causes air tubes to be less reactive and less likely to spasm.
Potential Side Effects: throat irritation, headaches, hives, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, insomnia, depression, coughing, runny nose.

Mast Cell Inhibitors: Cromolyn Sodium & Nedocromil
Function: Used as preventive treatment before exercise or exposure to allergens.
Potential Side Effects: Adverse effects are a rarity. They include throat irritation, dryness, bad taste, and coughing.

Function: Help control nighttime asthma symptoms.
Potential Side Effects: insomnia, abdominal pain, aggravation of ulcers or reflux, urination difficulty in males with prostatism, nausea, vomiting, central nervous system stimulation, headaches, seizures, hematemesis, hyperglycemia, hypokalemia, tachycardia.

Leukotriene Modifiers
Function: Alternative to low-dose inhaled corticosteroid therapy.
Potential Side Effects: increase in liver enzymes, reversible hepatitis and hyperbilirubinemia.