8 Reasons to Try a New Asthma Medication
- Thinking of switching to a new asthma medication?Many people with asthma take some kind of a long-term control medication on a daily basis. These medications reduce airway inflammation, and in doing so, they also reduce the chance that you’ll have an asthma attack. But perhaps you’ve been wondering if another asthma medication might help you gain better control over your asthma symptoms. Contact your doctor and bring up the topic for discussion. It may be possible for you to try another medication if you’re experiencing some of these problems.
- 1. Uncontrolled Asthma SymptomsProbably the most compelling reason to try a new asthma medication is your current med isn’t working very well—or isn’t working as effectively as it once did. If you’re struggling to control symptoms like tightness in your chest, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, or if you’re increasingly using your rescue inhaler for temporary relief, it may be time to try something else. About 10% of asthmatics develop what’s known as severe asthma, which cannot be controlled with typical medications and usually requires several additional drugs to manage. If you’re not finding success with the medications you’re taking, and still need to use a rescue inhaler and corticosteroids often, ask your doctor about assessing your condition.
- 2. Inhalation TechniqueYou use an inhaler to breathe medication directly into your lungs, and these inhalers come in dry-powder or metered-dose forms. While asthma inhalers typically work in more or less the same way, they can be just different enough that you might have to use a slightly different inhalation technique with each one. You might find that you’re just not comfortable with a particular asthma inhaler. If you have trouble using it, you’re less likely to use it—so it’s important to find the right one for you to keep your asthma controlled. If you’re concerned about your inhaler technique, talk to your healthcare provider about finding an alternative that’s better suited to you.
- 3. CostYour insurance covers certain asthma medications, but maybe it just dropped coverage for the one you’re taking. You may be willing to pay out of pocket for your medication, but in some cases, you might not be able to. In this case, your doctor may be able to substitute a different medication, or even a generic, that’s appropriate for your symptoms and situation.
- 4. Preference for a Different Type of MedicationYou may be taking an inhaled corticosteroid, but you wonder if you might have a better experience (and better control) with a medication in a different form. Discuss the possibilities with your doctor, as some types of medication may not be good options but others could be worth trying.
- 5. Unpleasant Side EffectsNo medication is completely free of side effects, but some may be more tolerable than others. For example, some people who take a bronchodilator in a pill form to relax their airways and address nighttime asthma symptoms do just fine. But others find themselves developing the uncomfortable symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. Some even develop insomnia. You’ll have to consider the severity of the side effects and your tolerance for them, as well as the medication’s effectiveness in controlling your asthma symptoms. If the side effects aren’t working out for you, talk to your doctor about different options.
- 6. Changes in Asthma SymptomsThe goal of asthma treatment is to manage symptoms, not cure the problem. But asthma can and often does change over time, which can require changes in the way you manage it. If your symptoms change or worsen, you may need to try a different asthma medication.
- 7. Psychological DistressMaybe you can cope with physical side effects from an asthma medication as long as it works well to control your asthma. But do you feel the same way about a medication that causes some psychological side effects? A certain type of long-term asthma control medication called a leukotriene modifier has been known to occasionally cause some psychological effects, such as agitation, aggression, depression, even hallucinations. If you’re experiencing these effects or are concerned they might be a problem, ask your doctor about another option.
- 8. Changes in Your EnvironmentYour family moved to a new city, or you bought a new house, or you changed jobs—any change in environment could potentially introduce new triggers for asthma flare-ups. For example, an increase in airborne pollen or air pollution in your new environment could be a trigger. You may need to try a different long-term asthma control medication to make sure you have good control over your asthma symptoms, especially if it’s hard to avoid those triggers.
Severe Asthma? 8 Reasons to Try a New Medication