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How is severe asthma treated?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Jan 6, 2022.

Official answer


Severe asthma is treated with a combination of different inhalers and other medications. Although symptoms of severe asthma are more intense and difficult to treat, it is possible to still get them under control. In addition to your regular medications for asthma such as corticosteroid inhalers and bronchodilators, other medications that may be tried for severe asthma (usually in combination) include:

  • higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids or using inhaled corticosteroids more frequently
  • oral corticosteroids or corticosteroid injections
  • continuous inhaled nebulizers
  • ipratropium bromide aerosols
  • long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs) such as albuterol or formoterol, which help keep the airways open for about 12 hours
  • leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs), such as montelukast or zafirlukast
  • slow-release theophylline
  • long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonists (LAMAs) such as tiotropium bromide or glycopyrronium bromide
  • biologics such as omalizumab, mepolizumab, reslizumab, benralizumab, or dupilumab
  • bronchial thermoplasty, a surgical procedure that may help some people with severe asthma.
  • How is severe asthma treated?
  • Scow DT, Luttermoser GK, Dickerson KS. Leukotriene inhibitors in the treatment of allergy and asthma. Am Fam Physician. 2007 Jan 1;75(1):65-70. PMID: 17225706.

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