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Medications You Should Avoid if You Have Asthma

Medications to Avoid if You Have Asthma

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It comes on so fast you feel helpless. You reach over to take a sip of water and pause as you feel your chest begin to tighten. You feel like you can’t breathe, and the air is getting squeezed right out of you. You’re experiencing an asthma attack.

Asthma can be triggered by several different factors, including allergens, viruses, environmental factors and drugs. If you have asthma, it’s important that you’re aware of the medications that can trigger an attack. If you think you’ve been prescribed a medication that has caused your asthma to worsen, discuss it with your doctor.

Drugs to avoid

Aspirin and a group of painkillers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are the most common drug triggers of asthma. It’s estimated that 10% to 20% of adults have sensitivity to aspirin or NSAIDS. This includes Motrin, Advil, Aleve and Naproxen. These are over-the-counter drugs are used to reduce fever and pain. 

Sulfites are additives in certain foods. Sulfites have been known to cause asthma symptoms that range from mild wheezing to potentially life-threatening asthmatic reactions. It’s rare, but 1 in a 100 people (according to the FDA) are sensitive to these compounds. Sulfites are in foods such as baked goods, canned vegetables, soup mixes and jams.

Beta blockers are commonly prescribed medications that reduce your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat slower and with less force. Non-selective beta blockers can be used to treat blood pressure, are also used for heart problems and migraines and even come in the form of eye drops. This class of drugs can cause asthma symptoms and should be avoided in asthmatics unless the benefit outweighs the risk.

ACE inhibitors are a class of medications used to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure. This medication class may cause coughs in about 10% of patients who use them. This cough can be confused with asthma or may trigger asthma symptoms.

Ochsner’s Asthma Management Program features both inpatient and outpatient services. Outpatient services include individual education courses for the patient and family, goal-oriented treatment plans, identification and control of environmental hazards, and management plans for home management and regular follow-up care. 

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