Do You Need Daily Maintenance Medicine?

Allergy-induced asthma is highly annoying. It's alarming, too, but after you've had it for a while, you'll find you become less scared and more annoyed at each flare-up. But it's also possible for the reactions to go the other way and become less of a problem over time. One common treatment is daily maintenance medication, usually in the form of a pill or corticosteroid inhaler, that helps keep your lungs and immune system on an even keel while allergens float around. Not everyone has to use these medications, but many who don't currently use them actually could benefit from them. Four main considerations determine whether or not you should use daily maintenance medications. 

A Warning

First, never stop an asthma medication without talking to your allergist. If you currently use a maintenance medication and want to see if you can stop, you must do that with your allergist's supervision. Remember, maybe the reason why you feel fine is because the medication is working well, and stopping the medication could result in asthma flare-ups coming back big time.

Frequency of Flare-ups

If you frequently have asthma attacks during your allergen's season, a daily maintenance medication is essential. Rare flare-ups might be easy to handle with your rescue medication if the flare-ups are mild. But frequently having breathing problems means you need extra help to keep your lungs working properly. If you currently use a maintenance medicine and don't like it, talk to your allergist about trying a new one; if you don't use a maintenance medication and you've noticed that your attacks are becoming more frequent, talk to your allergist about starting to use maintenance meds.

Duration of Allergen

If the allergen in question is a pollen that is a problem in your area for a long time, maintenance medication is a good idea. If you have just moved to a new area where the pollen is much more prevalent than in your old neighborhood, you may need to start using a maintenance medication if you weren't before. For those already on maintenance meds and who want to stop, you might not be able to if the pollen is a problem for many months. Your quality of life could decline significantly if you rely solely on rescue medication for much of the year.

Persistence of Symptoms

Sometimes allergic asthma can be really insidious, with flare-ups being rather mild but notably prolonged. So you might have a flare-up, take some rescue medication, and then never really get that good breathing ability back for a while. Even if your allergic reactions are really mild, that prolonged inability to get that full, satisfying breath is not going to feel very good. If you've just developed an allergy in which you have this type of reaction, you really do need to be on maintenance medication, at least for a while.

Severity of Symptoms

It doesn't matter how infrequent flare-ups are if the flare-ups are severe. Asthma attacks that knock you flat and shut off your ability to breathe immediately are not to be trifled with. This is a situation where you really do want maintenance medication even if you rarely have an attack. At the same time, if you've been taking maintenance medications for very rare flare-ups, and you want to see if your reactions have gotten better, talk to your allergist (but it can't be said enough -- don't stop the medication without permission!).

Again, don't stop medications until you talk to your allergist. If you haven't been using a maintenance medication, for example, because you really didn't need one before, contact your allergist if your symptoms have changed for the worse.