Asthma Facts

Shortness of breath? Wheezing? A person who suffers from bronchial asthma has very sensitive air passages (bronchi) that may be affected by a number of different things called triggers. These triggers include food, medicine, pets, smoke or other irritants in the air, the common cold, and exercise. When exposed to a trigger, a person may experience shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or wheezing. Over-the-counter (OTC) asthma medicines, also known as bronchodilators, are used to help relieve breathing problems caused by bronchial asthma.

Asthma Treatments

Asthma medicines, like all OTC medicines, contain certain active ingredients that make them work in the human body. The product’s active ingredients, including how much of a substance is in each dose, are listed first on the Drug Facts label.

Bronchodilator asthma medicines work by opening air passages that are narrowed during asthma attacks. Asthma medicine active ingredients are available in tablet form and are taken by mouth.

Asthma medicine active ingredients include:

  • Ephedrine
  • Epinephrine

Asthma medicines may also contain other active ingredients to relieve additional conditions, such as chest congestion and the build-up of mucus.


  • All of the tips for the safe use of OTC asthma medicines also apply to children. But as with most OTCs, there are some additional considerations when it comes to treating kids.
  • Do not use an OTC asthma medicine on any child unless a healthcare provider has diagnosed your child with asthma and a proper course of treatment has been determined.
  • Children should always be supervised when using any asthma medicine.
  • Do not use an OTC asthma medicine containing ephedrine with children under the age of 12.