As we all know asthma is a common inflammatory condition that affects the lungs and airways in both children and adults. And there are medications like LABAs which can help with it’s symptoms. According to the American Lung Association over 25 million people in the United States have difficulty in breathing because of asthma. There are mild to severe symptoms in this health condition.
LABAs are long-acting beta-agonists, a form of medication which is used by doctors to relieve asthma symptoms. They work by relaxing and opening of the airways.
What are LABAs?
Long-acting beta-agonists(LABAs) are inhaled medications that are used by doctors to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD). An inhaler or nebulizer device is used to deliver LABAs directly into the lungs. LABAs improve breathing and lessen asthma symptoms by acting as a relaxer for the airway muscles. As the airflow increases the symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness decrease. Doctors use LABA primarily to treat asthma exacerbations.
LABAs can increase the chances of getting an asthma attack. So the United States Food and Drug Administration recommends using this medicine in combination with inhaled steroids.
Asthma exacerbations are increases in a person’s asthma symptoms that are significant enough to change their treatment. Even with the best possible care and management around 10% of people with asthma experience a severe kind of exacerbation which means they need oral corticosteroids, visit to the emergency department or hospitalization once a year. The asthma exacerbations can lead to a progressive decrease in lung function. If a person reaches this point doctors may add a LABA in their treatment plan.
The best way to prevent asthma from getting worse is to carve out an effective asthma action plan that gives details of all the medications a patient needs, the amounts of dosage and the time. The commonest medicines that doctors use to treat exacerbations are inhaled corticosteroids(ICS). Combining ICS and LABAs is an effective form of treatment.
Can LABAs cause asthma attacks?
It was noted in 2010 that some people who take LABAs alone have a higher risk of severe asthma exacerbations as compared to those who do not use them. And so it was required by LABA manufacturers to have risk management programs. Then in 2017 it was reviewed and FDA concluded that there was not much risk in using a combination of ICS and LABAs. So people should use a combination of LABAs and ICS to avoid an increased risk of severe life-threatening asthma attacks.
Uses of LABAs
LABAs are one treatment that can reduce asthma exacerbations. These are recommended for short term use by the doctors as using it by itself is dangerous. And combining LABAs with an ICS is the safest way to use LABAs. The purpose of an ICS is to decrease the inflammation in lungs. Because if left untreated it can lead to breathing problems. LABAs help in muscle relaxation in the muscles surrounding the airways in the lungs and lessen the symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and shortness of breath. The FDA does not recommend using LABAs by themselves because of the increased risk of asthma-related deaths.
Alternatives to LABAs
There are few alternatives to LABAs. The most popular out of them are inhaled corticosteroids(ICS). ICS help reduce asthma exacerbations and improve asthma control. Some other such options are leukotriene antagonists and tiotropium. Leukotriene antagonists reduce asthma exacerbations in both adults and children but they are not as effective as ICS.
Tiotropium reduces the frequency of asthma exacerbations in people above 6 years of age or older who cannot control their asthma with ICS.
Other alternative ways are non-medical and involve environmental control to remove allergens like dust or pet hair or some other triggers like tobacco smoke. These methods are though best for those with a severe allergy to a single allergen because it is difficult to remove entire traces of more than one allergen altogether.
Long-acting-beta-agonists(LABAs) are a type of medicine for asthma. When a person uses them in conjunction with inhaled corticosteroids(ICS) they can reduce the asthma exacerbations safely. LABAs do their work by relaxing the airway passages making it easier to breathe. LABAs should not be used by themselves because it increases the risk of asthma-related deaths.