Avoiding drugs that could precipitate an asthma attack (or, in the case of severe adverse drug reaction, anaphylactic shock) is not always easy. This is because some of the most likely asthma triggers are the drugs themselves! One class of drugs, the beta-blockers, is liable to cause severe attacks in any asthma sufferer.What You Should Tell Your Doctor if You Are Asthmatic
The importance of informing your physician of a previous adverse drug reaction to any drug before being prescribed any allergy medications or drugs for allergy-induced asthma cannot be stressed enough. Tell your doctor if you use any of the drugs listed in the table to the right. This list is by no means comprehensive and represents only a sample.
|Prescription Drugs||albuterol, bitolterol, ephedrine, epinephrine, isoproterenol, isoetharine, terenol, pseudoephedrine, terutaline|
|Allergy Medications||including any other drugs that contain the above, e.g. cold medications, diet pills|
|Beta-Blockers||particularly propranalol, labetalol, atenolol and timolol|
|Antidepressants / MAO Inhibitors||particularly phenelzine, isocarboxazid, tranylcypromine|
|Non-Prescription Drugs||aspirin, cold and flu remedies|
Also tell your doctor if you have received drug treatment in the past for any of the following conditions:
• heart disease
• high blood pressure
• overactive thyroid gland
The Dangers of Beta-Blockers
The ß2 antagonist (beta-blocker) drugs can be very dangerous for asthmatics. This is because they interfere with the body’s normal autonomic system action that widens the airways.
Remember: Some of the most effective drugs used to treat all forms of asthma, including allergy-induced asthma, are the beta receptor agonists. Clearly, the asthmatic must avoid, at all cost, any drugs that have the opposite effect.
Although some beta-blockers are less dangerous than others, asthmatics should always bear in mind that all beta-blockers have some action in blocking the ß2 receptors.
What is reassuring to know, however, is that diagnosed asthmatics are rarely prescribed beta-blockers, unless in the form of eye drops.
Although, not well documented, research suggests that taking beta-blockers produces an increased risk for anaphylactic shock caused by an adverse drug reaction among those with food allergies.
Aspirin and Aspirin Type Drugs
Sensitivity to aspirin may trigger an adverse drug reaction in the asthmatic. This can set off an asthma attack or occasionally lead to the onset of anaphylactic shock.
Because this type of reaction doesn’t appear to involve the immune system, aspirin sensitivity is often referred to as a “pseudo-allergy.” From the asthmatic’s point of view, however, this description is entirely academic since the effect is the same!
Asthmatics should avoid all forms of aspirin and medications containing aspirin, including: Anadin, Aspro, Beecham’s Powders, Codiphen, Decrin, Disprin, Ecotrin, Equagesic, Migravess, Solcode, Solprin, Veganin and Winsprin.
Also, if you have suffered from an adverse drug reaction to aspirin in the past you may also react to compounds in the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) group, including: aloxiprin, diclofenac, fenbufen, ibuprofen, indomethacin, mefenamic, naproxen, piroxicam and tolmetin.
Alternative Methods of Relieving Asthma Symptoms
If you are asthmatic and have a cold, sore throat, influenza, bronchitis, or any other non-asthma related respiratory type condition, seek medical advice immediately.
Discuss with your physician whether secondary respiratory infection prevention is necessary or not. Under these circumstances, most medical practitioners agree that asthmatics should be given antibiotic medication.
And Finally . . . Prevention is Better than Cure!
If you are asthmatic and have previously suffered an adverse drug reaction to allergy medications, take preventive measures to avoid the need for these drugs in the first place! Here are a few simple, practical measures you can take, in your everyday life:
• If you are a smoker, the most useful thing you can do for yourself is to
stop. Right NOW.
• Avoid passive smoking: steer clear of bars, clubs or other environments
in which your ability to enjoy clean air is compromised.
• Insist on clean air in your home.
• The workplace is a danger zone for allergy-induced asthma attacks. Take
positive steps to remove yourself from dangerous allergens that you know
may trigger an attack.
• Have your vehicle checked for exhaust emissions.
• Try to avoid driving in dense traffic.