Respiratory Medications

Content Adapted From: The National Women’s Health Information Center & OMRDD Medication Administration Student Manual

The respiratory system starts at the nose and goes to the lungs. This includes the nose, throat, and lungs. When you breathe, your lungs take in oxygen from the air and deliver it to the bloodstream. People with lung disease have difficulty breathing. Millions of people in the U.S. have lung diseases such as asthmachronic obstructive pulmonary disease, infections like influenzapneumonia and tuberculosislung cancer, and many other breathing problems.

Medications to Treat Respiratory Conditions are Grouped into Five Categories

Antihistamines
Medications that reduce the effects of histamine, relieving allergy symptoms. May also be sued to prevent motion sickness. They are most useful when treating a nasal allergy. They commonly treat:

  • Hives
  • Common Colds
  • Medication Reactions
  • Nasal Allergies
  • Insect Bites
  • Decongestants
Decongestants

These relieve nasal congestion and are generally prescribed to treat upper respiratory tract infections. They work by narrowing the blood vessels in the nose which reduces the swelling and mucus production. They come in many forms see Medications 101for the different forms medicines come in.

Expectorants and Antitussives
Expectorants are medications that break up mucus, and open up the lungs. These are used to help get the mucus out of the system and are often over the counter medications (you do not need  a doctor to prescribe them to you). Antitussives suppress the cough reflex, this means they are used to help your child to stop coughing. They often contain alcohol and sugar so check with your doctor about the right kind to get.

Bronchodilators
Medications that increase the size of the your bronchial tubes. These are commonly used to treat Asthma. Asthma medications come in many formats also so check with your doctor for the best method for your child.

Antituberculars
Medications that are used to treat tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a long term infection mostly in the lungs. Those with poor immune systems, diabetics, elderly and individuals with HIV are at a higher risk of infection.

 Information on drug therapies are for educational purposes only. Please consult with your health care provider for more information and treatment options.