Just the FAQs, Ma'am 
Author Message Just the FAQs, Ma'am

In the absence of any other volunteer, I have decided to
write the formal FAQ for, in addition
to the asthma medications FAQ which I already maintain.
Consequently, the FAQ entitled FAQ:
Asthma -- General Information is undergoing extensive

Please take a look at the table of contents -- if there are
additional topics you'd like discussed, please drop me a line.
Once the revision is mostly complete, I'll be submitting
these FAQs to the *.answers groups also.


PS:  Sorry for being a couple of days late -- our newsserver
     had indigestion yesterday.

Sat, 22 Mar 1997 02:43:24 GMT Just the FAQs, Ma'am

Fri, 19 Jun 1992 00:00:00 GMT Just the FAQs, Ma'am

Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2 Oct 1994
Version: 2.0

 FAQ:  Asthma -- General Information


Welcome to!  This FAQ is currently under construction,
and I haven't even finished the introduction yet.  But read on, there's
more . . .

Please take look at the table of contents and see if there's any topics
missing that you'd like to have -- if so, please drop me a line.  You
may notice that some of the answers don't exactly match the questions;
at this time I have just cut and pasted some of my previous postings,
so all material currently included will be undergoing extensive
revision in my copious spare time.

Comments, additions, and corrections are requested; if you do not wish
your name to be included in the contributors list, please state that
explicitly when contributing.  I will accept additions upon my own
judgement -- I'll warn you right now that I'm a confirmed skeptic and
am not a great believer in alternative medicine.  For more information
about asthma medications, there is also an Asthma Medications FAQ
that is posted as a companion to this one.

* = not added yet
+ = added since last version
& = updated/corrected since last version


Table of Contents:

General Information:
     1.0  What is asthma?
*    1.1  How is asthma diagnosed?
*    1.2  What are the common triggers of asthma?
     1.3  What are some of the most common misconceptions about asthma?

*    2.0  What are the major classes of asthma medications?
     2.1  What are the names of the various asthma medications?
     2.2  What kinds of inhalers are there?
     2.3  What kinds of tablets are there?
*    2.4  Should I use an inhaler or take pills?  What's the difference?
     2.5  Which kind of inhaler should I use?
     2.6  Is Fisons still making the Intal Spinhaler?
     2.7  What is a spacer?
     2.8  What is "thrush mouth" and how can I avoid it?
     2.9  Are salbutamol and albuterol the same drug?

*    3.0  What is a peak flow meter?
     3.1  What resources are there for asthmatics?


1.0  What is asthma?

     Asthma is defined as *reversible* obstruction (blockage) of the
     airways inside of the lungs (bronchi & bronchioles).  The
     '*reversible*' part is important; if the condition is NOT
     reversible, either with medication or spontaneously, then the
     diagnosis is not that of asthma, but of some other condition,
     usually chronic obstructive pulminary disease.

     There are 3 factors involved in obstructing the airways in
     asthma: (1) constriction of the muscles surrounding the airway;
     (2) inflammation and swelling of the airway; and (3)  increased
     mucus production which clogs the airway.

     Treatment of acute asthma (an asthma "attack") usually is
     directed mainly toward alleviating the constriction of the
     airway. {*filter*} used for this effect are called bronchodilators,
     because they dilate (open up) the constricted bronchi. Adrenalin
     is often used in emergency rooms for this purpose, for an acute
     asthma "attack" that is seriously out of control.  For less serious,
     non-life threatening acute episodes of asthma, there are inhaled
     bronchodilators which the asthma sufferer can learn to use at
     home.  These are such inhaled medications as albuterol
     (salbutamol outside of the USA) (Proventil, Ventolin),
     terbutaline (Brethine, Bricanyl, Brethaire), and metaproterenol
     (Alupent, Metaprel).  These may also be prescribed for inhalation
     on a regular schedule, rather than only during acute episodes.
     They all have adrenalin-like bronchodilation effects.
     Theophylline also relaxes the muscles surrounding the airways,
     and may be given intravenously in the emergency room, or orally
     outside of the hospital.  It is not administered by inhalation.

     EPISODE OF ASTHMA (an asthma "attack") IS NOT THE SAME THING AS
     TREATING THE ASTHMA.*   Years ago it was thought that "asthma"
     consisted only of the acute "attacks" which were suffered
     intermittantly;  when you weren't wheezing, you didn't have
     asthma any more.  This is no longer thought to be the case.  New
     asthma research emphasizes the role of the inflammation component
     of asthma, pointing out that bronchodilation alone does not
     reverse or treat the inflammation, although it does offer
     dramatic relief from an acute "attack".  New thinking on the
     subject is that if the underlying inflammation is successfully
     treated, then the person with asthma will be much less
     susceptible to the airway constriction, wheezing, and increased
     mucus secretion which accompany an acute "attack". People with
     asthma have been found often to have ongoing inflammation which
     does not subside between acute "attacks", even when they are not
     wheezing. However, treatment of the inflammation cannot be done
     on an emergency basis.  Treatment of the inflammation component
     is done after control is regained from an acute episode.  Without
     treating the underlying inflammation, the asthma itself is not
     being addressed and the acute attacks will continue to recur.For
     this reason, it is particularly important for parents of
     asthmatic children NOT to use the emergency room as the *only*
     place or occasion for treating their children's asthma (during
     acute attacks).  That is not actually treating the asthma;  it is
     just alleviating the most acute symptoms.  The child needs to be
     seen when it is NOT an emergency, for evaluation of the asthma &
     development of a treatment plan.

     The inflammation component is treated primarily with steroids,
     which are a type of hormone.  The steroids used in the treatment
     of asthma are corticosteroids, which are not the same as the
     anabolic steroids that have become notoroius for their abuse by
     muscle builders and athletes.  Up until fairly recently, doctors
     did not usually prescribe corticosteroids for asthma except as a
     final resort, when all else was not working to acheive the
     desired result.  Now that has completely reversed.  Steroid
     inhalers (Azmacort) are now among the first line of {*filter*} that a
     doctor will try in asthma management after an acute attack has
     resolved.  They work by reducing inflammation of the bronchi, and
     making future acute attacks less likely.

     Cromolyn sodium (Intal) is the 4th of the different types of
     asthma {*filter*}.  It is thought to work by inhibiting mast cells
     in the lungs.  It has been useful for many people who suffer from
     exercise-induced asthma, in allowing them to exercise without
     experiencing an acute episode of asthma.  

     All asthma {*filter*} are permitted for use in international sports
     competition (so far as I know) except for adrenalin (epinephrin).
     But some asthma {*filter*} cause false positives on drug screening
     tests for stimulents, so if you are having a sports or an
     employment physical it is a REALLY good idea to inform everyone
     who will listen that you are taking asthma medications which
     might cause false positives on the tests.

1.1  How is asthma diagnosed?

     - to be added in a future version

1.2  What are the common triggers of asthma?

     - to be added in a future version

1.3  What are some of the most common misconceptions about asthma?

     People with asthma must not exercise because exercise might make
     them ill.  They must live sedentary lives. (FALSE)

     Asthma is primarily a psychogenic illness caused by
     repressed emotions.  (FALSE)

     All children outgrow their asthma eventually. (FALSE, but many

     Childhood asthma turns into {*filter*} emphysema. (FALSE)

     All asthma is caused by allergies. (FALSE)

     Moving to another state or region will cure asthma.  (FALSE)

     Food allergies are a frequent cause of childrens' asthma. (FALSE,
     though rarely, they are)

     Asthma in children is made worse by paying attention to it,
     because it is just a way of trying to get attention in the first
     place. (FALSE)

     Asthma in children is caused by so-called "smother-mothers".

     Asthma is a drag, but its not fatal. (FALSE.  Especially among
     African American children and young {*filter*}s it is a growing cause
     of death for reasons not fully understood.)

     Smoking {*filter*} improves asthma.  (FALSE)

     Asthma inhalers are {*filter*}ive.  (FALSE)


2.0  What are the major classes of asthma medications?

     - to be added in a future version

2.1  What are the names of the various asthma medications?

     For a complete listing of asthma medications, please see the FAQ:  Asthma Medications.  It is posted
     monthly as the companion to this general information FAQ.

2.2  What kinds of inhalers are there?

     aerosol inhalers:

     MDI        - metered-dose inhaler, consisting of an aerosol unit and
                  plastic mouthpiece

     autohaler  - MDI made by 3M which is activated by one's breath, and
                  doesn't need the breath-hand coordination that a regular

read more »

Sat, 22 Mar 1997 02:53:38 GMT Just the FAQs, Ma'am

Fri, 19 Jun 1992 00:00:00 GMT Just the FAQs, Ma'am

Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2 Oct 1994
Version: 3.1

 FAQ:  Asthma Medications

This FAQ attempts to list the most commonly prescribed medications
for the prevention and treatment of asthma, both in the U.S. and
overseas.  Please use this posting only as a supplement to, not
a substitute for, medical advice.  The FAQ is maintained by

The following information came from two sources:  most of the
{*filter*} available in the U.S. are listed in the 1994 Physician's
Desk Reference (full citation at end of post); the remainder
of the information, including those medications available
overseas, came from the many helpful contributors listed at the
end of the post.  If you do not wish your name to be included
in the contributors list, please state that explicitly when
contributing.  Also, if I have left anyone's name out, please let
me know so that I may include it.

Corrections, additions, and comments are requested; please include
the name of the country in which the medication is available, as
it isn't always obvious from the user-id.  If the drug is available
as an inhaler, please specify it as a MDI or one of the other types
mentioned in the glossary, or add a description of the inhaler if
it is not present already.  

Abbreviations are explained in the glossary at the end of the table.  
If the medication is followed by a country name in brackets, then
to the best of my knowledge it is only available in that country,
and not in the U.S.

If the drug is available in a nasal form for allergies, I've
included it for completeness.  I haven't covered {*filter*}steroids,
only inhaled, or antihistamines at the present time.

+ = added since last version
& = updated/corrected since last version


Type of drug          
         Chemical name         Brand name       Comments
----------------------         ----------       --------


         cromolyn sodium       Intal            available as MDI,
&          (called sodium                         capsules for Spinhaler,
&          cromoglycate                           neb soln
&          in UK)              Nasalcrom        nasal spray

         nedocromil            Tilade           MDI
                               Tilade Mint      MDI (UK)

&        sodium cromoglycate -- see cromolyn sodium

  steroidal (inhaled)

         beclomethasone        Beclovent        MDI
           dipropionate        Beclodisk        diskhaler (Can)
                               Becloforte       MDI (Can, Sw), larger
                                                  dose than Beclovent
                               Becotide         MDI (UK)
                               Beconase         nasal MDI
                               Beconase AQ      nasal spray

                               Vanceril         MDI
                               Vancenase        Pockethaler (nasal MDI)
                               Vancenase AQ     nasal spray

&        budesonide            Pulmicort        turbohaler (Aus, Can)
                                                neb soln (UK)
&                              Rhinocort        nasal turbohaler (Can)
&                              Nebuamp          neb soln (Can)

         dexamethasone         Decadron         Respihaler
           sodium phosphate      Phosphate              

         flunisolide           Aerobid          MDI
                               Aerobid-M        MDI, with menthol as
                                                  flavouring agent
&                              Bronalide        nasal turbohaler (Can)
                               Nasalide         nasal spray
                               Rhinalar         nasal spray (Can)

         fluticasone           Flixotide        MDI (UK)
           proprionate                          diskhaler (UK)

         triamcinolone         Azmacort         MDI
           acetonide           Nasacort         nasal MDI

Anticholinergics (bronchodilators)

         ipratr{*filter*}           Atrovent         MDI

Beta-agonists (bronchodilators)

         albuterol*            Airet            inh soln
           (salbutamol is      Proventil        MDI, inh soln, syrup,
           WHO recommended                        tablets,
           name generally                         Repetabs (SA tablets)
           in use outside      Ventolin         MDI, inh soln, syrup,
           the U.S.)                              neb soln, tablets,
                                                  Rotacaps for Rotahaler
                               Ventodisk        diskhaler (Can, UK)
                               Volmax           ER tablets

              * MDI uses albuterol, all other forms (tablets, etc.)
                use albuterol sulfate

+        bitolterol mesylate   Tornalate        MDI

+        ephedrine             Ephedrine        inh soln (Can)

         epinephrine           Bronkaid Mist    MDI, OTC  -- epinephrine
                                                  in form of nitrate and
                               Bronkaid Mist    MDI, OTC  -- epinephrine
                                 Suspension       in form of bitartrate
                               Medihaler-Epi    MDI, OTC -- epinephrine
                                                  in form of bitartrate
                               Primatene Mist   MDI, OTC

                               Primatene Mist   MDI, OTC  -- epinephrine
                                 Suspension       in form of bitartrate
                               Sus-Phrine       injection

         fenoterol             Berotec          MDI, inh soln, tablets
           hydrobromide                           (Can, Aus, NZ)

         isoetharine           Isoetharine      inh soln
           hydrochloride         Arm-a-Med

         isoproterenol         Medihaler-Iso    MDI
&          sulfate             Isuprel          MDI, neb soln (Can) --
&                                                 as hydrochloride

         metaproterenol        Alupent          MDI, inh soln, tablets,
           sulfate                                neb soln, syrup
                               Metaprel         MDI, inh soln, syrup,
                               Metaproterenol  inh soln

         pirbuterol acetate    Maxair           MDI, autohaler

+        procaterol HCl        Pro-Air          MDI (Can)

         salbutamol -- see albuterol

         salmeterol            Serevent         MDI
           xinafoate                            diskhaler (UK)

         terbutaline           Brethaire        MDI
           sulfate             Brethine         tablets, neb soln,
                               Bricanyl         tablets, injection
                                                turbohaler (Aus)

Xanthines (bronchodilators)

         theophylline          Aerolate         TD capsules, liquid
                               Quibron-T        tablets, SA tablets
                                                  (see also
                               Respbid          SR tablets
                               Slo-bid          ER capsules
                               Slo-phylline     ER capsules
                               T-Phyl           CR tablets
                               Theo-24          ER capsules
                               Theo-Dur         ER tablets
                               Theo-Dur         SA capsules
                               Theo-X           tablets
                               Theolair         tablets, SR tablets,
                               Uniphyl          CR tablets

         dyphylline**          Lufyllin         tablets, injection,
             ** similar to theophylline        

         oxtriphylline***      Choledyl         DR tablets, SA tablets

             *** oxtriphylline is the choline salt of theophylline,
                 and 400 mg of it is equivalent to 254 mg of
                 anhydrous theophylline


Combination Medications:

Brand name         Chemical names of ingredients    Comments
----------         -----------------------------    --------

Asbron G           theophylline sodium glycinate,   elixir, tablets
                     guaifenesin (expectorant)

Bronkaid Caplets   ephedrine sulfate, guaifenesin   tablets, OTC

Congess            guaifenesin, pseudoephedrine     tablets

Duo-Medihaler      isoproterenol hydrochloride,     MDI
                     phenylephrine bitartrate

Duovent            fenoterol hydrobromide,          MDI (UK)
                     ipratr{*filter*} bromide

Marax              ephedrine sulfate,               tablets
                     Atarax (hydroxyzine HCl)

Primatene Tablets  theophylline, ephedrine HCl      tablets, OTC

Quadrinal          theophylline calcium salicylate, tablets
                     ephedrine HCl, phenobarbital,
                     potassium iodide

Rynatuss           carbetapentane tannate,          tablets, syrup
                     chlorpheniramine tannate,
                     ephedrine tannate,

read more »

Sat, 22 Mar 1997 02:57:13 GMT
 [ 5 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. FAQ: Just the FAQs, Ma'am

2. Intro to the FAQs

3. Pointer to the FAQs

4. Pointer to the FAQs

5. Pointer to the FAQs

6. Pointer to FAQs

7. Pointer to the FAQs

8. Pointer to the FAQs

9. FAQ: Asthma -- General Information

10. FAQ: Asthma -- General Information

11. FAQ: Asthma -- General Information

12. FAQ: Asthma -- General Information

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