dramatic perspective of an arm reaching for an inhaler

Do I Really Need Preventative Asthma Medication?

Last updated: November 2022

Sometimes I ask myself if the preventative asthma medication I use actually helps me avoid asthma flares. I recently had the chance to find out. While packing for a trip I grabbed what I thought was my preventative inhaler as well as my rescue inhaler. Regrettably, I grabbed two rescue inhalers. I did not discover my mistake until I was at my destination. That mistake meant I could not use my preventative asthma medication for several days. I use Atrovent® HFA (ipratropium bromide HFA) two to three times a day. I thought I would be fine and like to believe that I will be ok without the preventative asthma medication.

After four and a half days of not using my preventative asthma medication, my asthma was twitchy. The fall allergies and smoke from fires did not help. Not using it meant the damage had been done. Coughing and minor wheezing pointed to an asthma flare on the horizon.

Yes, I need my preventative asthma medication

There was my answer. Undeniably and emphatically, yes, I should be using preventative asthma medication.

I want to have faith that my body has learned to deal with asthma on its own. I want to believe that all will be well if I do not use preventative asthma medication. Sadly for me, and for so many others, that just is not the case. Asthma has been a lifelong roller coaster of episodes, short and long. My asthma journey worsened as I aged. I was reluctant to admit that I needed help. I had tried a variety of preventative medications in the past. Unfortunately, side effects prohibited most of them. My pulmonologist suggested the Atrovent® inhaler.

Triggers and treatments

Among my personal asthma triggers, phlegm and mucous production are the worst. One asthma professional also told me I had twitchy lungs. Finding a preventative asthma medication that worked for me was a game-changer. Atrovent® HFA is not a steroid inhaler. It is an anticholinergic. It is a bronchodilator that relaxes and opens the air passages to the lungs. This makes breathing easier. 1

Coincidently, my nebulizer medication is a combination of albuterol and ipratropium. I had never realized I could use ipratropium independently. Mostly ipratropium is used for chronic obstructive lung disease. "The non-FDA indications include asthma exacerbations and clearance of secretion". This makes it perfect for me because I am a phlegm-producing machine!2

Without having my preventative asthma medication, I tried to stay in control of the possible asthma flare by using my rescue inhaler. I also added guaifenesin (an expectorant) and copious amounts of water. Because my prescription was not yet eligible for a refill the cost without insurance was $407.00! I called my insurance company to obtain an early refill. Apparently, if you need a refill outside of the normal date range you can obtain a vacation override. Approved, the cost dropped to $4.00. Once I had the Atrovent® prescription, I managed to get my twitchy lungs under control. That experience made me realize how effective my preventative asthma medication really is.

My conclusion

Accordingly, using the Atrovent® inhaler as prescribed for me, will not be questioned again. The use of this preventative asthma medication is a small nuisance compared to having a full-blown asthma episode.

Do you use a preventative asthma medication? I'd love to know your thoughts.

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