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List of Drugs Prescribed for Breathing Problems

author image Carole Anne Tomlinson
Carole Anne Tomlinson is a registered nurse with experience in rehabilitation, nutrition, chemical dependency, diabetes and health problems related to the elderly. Tomlinson holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and is presently working on her master's degree in nursing. Her screenplays have been viewed by Merchant Ivory, Angela Lansbury and Steven King's associates.
List of Drugs Prescribed for Breathing Problems
Many types of medications help relieve and prevent breathing problems. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

According to the American Geriatrics Society, breathing problems such as shortness of breath, discomfort in chest, coughing and wheezing, often have causes in underlying illnesses. These respiratory illnesses include chronic bronchitis, asthma and pulmonary emphysema as reported by National Jewish Health. Medical treatments for these breathing problems, which occur most often in overweight people and smokers, include medications. Getting some exercise as well as quitting smoking will help decrease these symptoms.

Long-Acting Beta Agonists

Physicians often prescribe bronchodilator medications categorized as long-acting beta agonists or LABAs to help prevent and control respiratory attacks associated with asthma and other lung diseases. These types of medications, MayoClinic.com reports, do not typically help during an attack, but function through daily doses to lessen the possibility of such acute attacks. Among these medicines, such versions as formoterol and salmeterol function to decrease inflammation and open up the airways. Other medications such as ipratropium and albuterol, both bronchodilator medicines, may combine to give more effective protection against attacks.

Short-Acting Beta Agonists

These prescribed drugs work more quickly than the long-acting variety of these medications, so people take them during asthma and other respiratory attacks. They are used for asthma suffers as well as people who have lung disease problems, National Jewish Health reports. Typically administered as quick inhalations from rescue inhalers, these medications include pirbuterol, levalbuterol and albuterol. They also relax the smooth muscles surrounding the airways of the lungs and relieve the symptoms of shortness of breath. While relief occurs quickly in most cases, the effects of the medication do not continue for long, so they do not help prevent future attacks as the long-acting types do.

Oral and Intravenous Corticosteroids

Doctors may prescribe corticosteroids in two ways to help in the treatment of lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and asthma. For severe respiratory problems, pills, capsules or injections of corticosteroids can help relieve symptoms and decrease inflammation. However, these oral corticosteroids, which work to suppress the immune system, can produce serious side effects if taken for an extended period. Prednisone, methyl-prednisolone and prednisolone can give relief in the short-term

Inhaled Corticosteroids

Inhaled corticosteroids produce far fewer side effects than other versions of the drugs, so the person may take them regularly. Doctors may prescribe inhaled corticosteroid medications for long-term treatment of lung disease, MayoClinic.com reports. They help prevent symptoms that can occur such as breathing problems and they therapeutically decrease the swelling in the airways making it easier to breath. Examples of these prescribed medication include mometasone, ciclesonide, fluticasone, budesonide, trimcinolone and beclomethasone.

Leukotriene Modifiers

Leukotriene modifiers work to cause relaxation of the smooth muscles encircling the airways, which reduces swelling as well lessening constriction. This opens the passages for better breathing. Leukotriene modifiers include such medicines as zafirlukast, montelukast and zileuton.

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