OTC Asthma Medication

There are a few medications that are available as over counter asthma medications.  It is important to note that these medications should not be utilized by any one who has moderate to severe asthma without first discussing this with your doctor.  All of these medications contain either epinephrine and ephedrine.  If your mild asthma symptoms occur more than once per week, it is advisable to stop using these medications and consult your physician.  It is also not advisable to rely on these drugs if you suffer from nocturnal asthma.

OTC epinephrine is available in an inhaler.  It is best to avoid brands that contain sulfites or alcohol as these extra ingredients may be a trigger for your asthma symptoms. This medication should provide rapid relief and last a few hours.  If your asthma symptoms are mild and infrequent, this should be sufficient.  There are few side effects with epinephrine because it is immediately inhaled into the lungs.  For individuals who are sensitive, it may cause rapid heart beat, nervousness, irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure.

OTC ephedrine is available only as an oral medication in combination as caplets, tablets, or syrup.  Ephedrine is sold under the name guaifenesin and is an expectorant that loosens mucus in the airways and helps rid the mucous by coughing..You will find this ingredient in some cold and cough medicines as an expectorant.  Some people do not tolerate guaifenesin well and it does have the possibility of exacerbating your asthma symptoms.  Relief usually takes an hour and will last up to 3 hours or so.   Side effects can include dizziness, jitters, restlessness, anxiety, sleep problems, rapid heart beat and tremors.

You should always consult your physician before taking these medications, especially if you have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or an enlarge prostrate.  You should also consult your doctor first if you are taking anti-depressants.

It is important to note that continued use of both of these medications will lead to a tolerance.  If you continue to rely on these methods to control your asthma attacks, you may find that after a period of time they do not work as well as they did when you first began taking them.