This article is from the Asthma FAQ, by Patricia Wrean and Marie Goldenberg firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Treatment of mild asthma usually tries to relieve occasional
symptoms as they occur by use of short-acting, inhaled
bronchodilators. Treatment of moderate or severe asthma,
however, attempts to alleviate both the constriction and
inflammation of the airways, through the use of both
bronchodilators and anti-inflammatories. Bronchodilators are
drugs which open up or dilate the constricted airways, while
drugs aimed at reducing inflammation of the airways are called
Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (usually inhaled corticosteroids)
daily for moderate to severe asthma is a relatively new approach
to treating asthma. The idea behind it is that if the underlying
inflammation of the airways is reduced, the bronchi may become
less hyperreactive, making future attacks less likely. Such
anti-inflammatory therapy, however, must be taken regularly in
order to be effective.
For asthma which is strongly triggered by allergies, allergen
avoidance can often greatly reduce the amount of medication
needed to control the asthma. Taking anti-allergic medications
or taking shots for allergy desensitization are other
alternatives. For more information about allergen avoidance
and allergies in general, please see the alt.support.asthma FAQ:
Allergies -- General Information (still under construction).