People in this group need to take asthma medications long-term. Yet even with medicine, their symptoms sometimes remain uncontrolled.
Asthma does not have a cure. If you have asthma and suffer from it on a daily basis, you know how hard living with this disease can be. Fortunately, many different kinds of asthma medications exist. Even so, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.
For individuals with moderate to severe asthma, the long-acting beta agonist (LABA) Serevent Diskus (salmeterol) could be an excellent fit.
How does this drug compare to other drugs typically prescribed for asthma? Is it appropriate for you and your individual symptoms?
Read on to find out!
An Overview of Asthma
Simply put, asthma causes your airways to swell. This swelling makes the airways narrower. Then any air coming in through your nose and/or mouth has a very hard time getting to your lungs.
When this happens, you might feel yourself gasping for breath, or you might have the sensation that the air in your body has nowhere to go.
Symptoms of an asthma attack generally include:
- Chest tightness
Two categories of asthma exist: allergic or non-allergic. With the former, indoor or outdoor allergens (think pollen or dust) can trigger an attack. With the latter, anything from stress to irritants in the air to exercise can bring on an attack.
Either way, an asthma attack can feel scary and overwhelming if treatment options are not accessible. Sadly, some attacks do turn out to be deadly. About ten people die every day from the disease. Most of these deaths, though, are preventable with proper medication and treatment.
Available Treatment Options for Asthma
Two general classes of medicines exist to treat asthma. The first class is quick relief (otherwise known as rescue) medications. The second is called controller medications.
If you are in the middle of an asthma attack, you need fast-acting medicine that will bring your symptoms under control now. That is what quick-relief medications do.
Controller medications, on the other hand, seek to prevent attacks before they begin. They are for long-term control of your symptoms.
Asthma patients generally use both types of medications simultaneously. They hope to prevent asthma attacks with a controller medication, but if something unexpected triggers a severe attack, they are ready with relief medication.
Because Serevent Diskus falls in the controller group, let’s focus on that one in this article.
Within the controller group, there are several treatment options:
- Cromolyn sodium
- Oral corticosteroids
- Leukotriene modifiers
- Inhaled corticosteroids
- Inhaled long-acting beta agonists (Serevent falls into this category)
- Combination inhaled medicines (combining both inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists)
That list seems pretty long, and wading through all possible treatment options can be confusing. For now, let’s see how Serevent Diskus fits into the big picture.
Serevent Diskus Among Other Controller Medicines
Most doctors prescribe an inhaled corticosteroid as a first line of defense against persistent asthma. Steroids reduce swelling and inflammation and can open up inflamed, blocked airways. This will then allow you to breathe normally again.
But for many people, a corticosteroid alone does not relieve their symptoms. This situation is especially true for people with severe asthma. They need additional treatment to ease their symptoms.
Doctors will then add a long-acting beta agonist, such as Serevent Diskus, to the patient’s daily regimen. This drug is a bronchodilator, which means it works by relaxing your muscles. As such it allows airways to reopen and air to flow freely again.
Studies show that continuing with a corticosteroid at a higher dose does not appear to reduce symptoms when a lower does has been tried already. Thus, there is a need for the extra and different kind of medicine.
Working with a corticosteroid (as well as a quick-acting relief medication), long-acting beta agonists appear to offer dramatic quality-of-life improvements for people with persistent and severe asthma. Attacks occur less at rest, with exercise, and at night, and the need for rescue medications decreases.
Guidelines support these observations. Long-acting beta agonists are to be used in conjunction with corticosteroids for people with moderate to severe asthma. Severent Diskus is an excellent choice for individuals who need these additional treatment options.
What You Need to Know About Serevent Diskus
There is an area of concern regarding Serevent Diskus that you should know about. Studies have shown a small and rare chance of asthma-related death while using this drug. The problem seems to be related somehow to salmeterol, its active ingredient.
Using salmeterol with a corticosteroid seems to reduce this risk significantly. For this reason, doctors do not recommend patients take salmeterol alone. As mentioned above, patients should use it alongside a corticosteroid for both safety and efficacy.
Further, once your symptoms are both controlled and maintained as such, your doctor might wish to taper off the medicine. Or you may remain on it long-term. It depends on your condition and the severity of your attacks.
Note also that Serevent Diskus is both a slow-acting and long-term bronchodilator. It effects last for twelve hours, so you only have to take it consistently twice a day.
On the other hand, it is not appropriate for an acute asthma attack. You have to carry a quick-relief medicine with you always just in case. But that is true for all of the controller medications.
As with any drug, there are some side effects, including:
- Upset stomach
- Rapid heartbeat
- Throat irritation
- Dry mouth/throat
For individuals with severe asthma, they may see dramatic lifestyle improvements with this drug. For them, the benefits greatly outweigh the side effects listed above.
Asthma is a disease that can be both uncomfortable and scary. It can also affect your quality of life and productivity, because dealing with severe breathing problems on a regular basis is debilitating. Serevent Diskus may significantly reduce your asthma symptoms.
Paying for your medications, on the other hand, is not always so easy. Unfortunately, studies confirm that many asthma patients do not take their controller medications regularly because of high prices.
That is where we can help.
We have a free drug price comparison tool. We can also help you find online licensed pharmacists, both in the United States and Canada. That way you know you are getting the best prices for your medications.