Asthma – Drug treatment

Drug treatment of bronchial asthma has two important components: emergency treatment of asthmatic crises and long-term treatment.

Emergency treatment of bronchial asthma

Emergency treatment is successful with medication that has a quick and short-term effect against acute shortness of breath. Bronchodilators, which belong to the group of beta-2 sympathomimetics, are helpful for this. Substances of this type, which take effect within a few minutes, include salbutamol or terbutaline. They are inhaled during an asthmatic crisis, relax the respiratory muscles and their effects wear off after a few hours. If this is not enough to get the shortness of breath under control again, a visit to us may be necessary. Further medication is administered here, such as corticosteroids and oxygen via a nasal tube.

Long-term treatment of bronchial asthma

The aim of long-term treatment of bronchial asthma is for the person affected to remain symptom-free. There are various drug therapy approaches for this. The therapy scheme for this is based on a step-by-step plan of the GINA guideline(Global INitiativefor Asthma).

Medication for bronchial asthma

For the long-term treatment of bronchial asthma, we administer anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator medication. The effect of bronchodilator medication – for example formoterol or salmeterol – can last up to twelve hours. They are combined with anti-inflammatory corticosteroids to control swelling and mucus formation in the airways. Such inhaled corticosteroids include budesonide, fluticasone and mometasone. Alternatively, we can also prescribe leukotriene antagonists, such as the substance montelukast. These active ingredients neutralize messenger substances that worsen the inflammation of the airways. An additional therapy for severe allergic bronchial asthma is so-called antibody therapy with omalizumab. We inject the product once or twice a month. Other antibody therapies are available for severe eosinophilic asthma.

Responsible senior physicians

Silvia Ulrich, Prof. Dr. med.

Director of Department, Department of Pulmonology

Tel. +41 43 253 43 36
Specialties: Head of Pulmonary Hypertension, Head of Dyspnea Clinic

Christian Clarenbach, Prof. Dr. med.

Senior Attending Physician, Department of Pulmonology

Tel. +41 44 255 38 28
Specialties: Head of Interstitial and Rare Lung Diseases

René Hage, Ph.D., Dr. med. (NL)

Attending Physician, Department of Pulmonology

Tel. +41 44 255 39 26
Specialties: Vice Head of Lung Transplant Pneumology and Cystic Fibrosis

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University Hospital Zurich
Department of Pulmonology
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Rämistrasse 100
8091 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 255 22 21
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