Can drugs trigger Asthma?

Be careful when you take the following drugs:

i) Pain Killers

About 10 percent of all asthma patients are sensitive to aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. People sensitive to these drugs may develop severe, hard-to-control attacks when they take any anti-inflammatory medications. Sensitivity to aspirin products is most common among those with nasal polyps–swollen tissues shaped like grapes that hang in nasal passages.

If you are aspirin-sensitive, you have to be very careful to avoid all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen. To identify products containing aspirin, look for the word salicylate in the active-ingredient list.

Besides aspirin itself, some products that contain aspirin, salicylate or NSAIDs that could trigger asthma attacks include:

  • Pain medications such as Advil, Voveran and other NSAIDs products. For pain relief, try acetaminophen products such as Tylenol, Panadol, Crocin and Aspirin-Free Anacin. These are a better choice for aspirin-sensitive asthmatics.
  • Cold tablets
  • Drugs for stomach distress, such as Pepto-Bismol
  • Antihistamine and cold combination pills such as Dristan
  • Medications for menstrual symptoms
  • Some suntan lotions
  • Prescription drugs containing aspirin, such as the painkillers Darvon Compound-65 and Percodan, and the headache remedy Fiorinal, Disprin.

ii) Drugs for blood pressure

In addition to aspirin, beta-blockers (beta adrenergic antagonists) used to treat migraine headaches, glaucoma, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, tremors, and other conditions can also cause or worsen asthma. Be sure to tell your doctor that you have asthma, because it may be necessary to use an alternative drug if beta-blockers are prescribed for any condition.

Even beta-blocker eye drops can precipitate asthma.

And some asthma medications themselves can cause problems. For example, theophylline medications, also prescribed to help control asthma, but can occasionally aggravate the condition at night by increasing stomach acid; nighttime reflux can trigger an asthma attack in some people. So if you’re on this medication and have frequent acid problems, talk to your doctor about adjusting the dose.

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