Asthma Chest & Allergy Centre

A centre of excellence providing treatment of Asthma, Allergies and Chest Diseases since 1992

Drugs to Avoid in Asthma

Drugs or medicines are powerful agents and have to be used carefully.

This is particularly true for asthmatics.

About 5 to 10 % of the asthmatics and up to 40% of the asthmatics with nasal polyps are hyper-sensitive to asprin and other similar medicines called NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) like Voveran of Brufen.

These drugs can cause nasal allergy, skin allergy or an asthma attack or even acute anaphylaxis and shock.

It is true that many asthmatics can take such medicines safely without any adverse effects. It is also true that a very small minority of asthmatics actually improve with these medicines – but this is very rare and certainly not a suggested treatment!

There are many safer alternatives to NSAIDs which the asthma patient can take for pain or fever. Paracetamol or Crocin are safe.

Another class of medicines that is unsafe in asthma is beta antagonists that are usually prescribed as tablets for high blood pressure, heart disease and migraine and as eye drops in glaucoma. The common names for this class of medicines are Atenolol, Metoprolol etc. These should be avoided.

“ACE inhibitors” are a type of blood pressure medicine. It comes by the name of Enalappril, Captopril, Lisinopril etc. These are notorious for causing a dry irritating cough – both in asthmatics and non-asthmatics. For reasons not entirely clear yet, this side effect is more commonly seen in Indians!

This might create confusion as to whether the cough is due to asthma or a side effect of the medicine. Hence it may be better to all together avoid taking this drug and use any of the many alternatives available.

Many patients of asthma take deriphyllin. Some drugs interferer with deriphyllin metabolism and increase the levels of deriphyllin in the blood, sometimes to dangerous levels. These are cimetedine ( zinetac), erythromycin, ciproflox and allopurinol (zyloric). These must be used carefully by those taking deriphyllin. Cigarette smoking reduces the metabolism of deriphyllin and thus smokers require higher doses of the same.

So here are some general rules regarding use of other drugs in asthma: 

  • Take only tried and tested medicines. Don’t try the latest or newest drug.
  • Don’t try a new medicine at night. If, God forbid, there is a reaction it is better it occurs in the day time when medical help is easily available.
  • Always inform your doctor that you have asthma so that he is doubly careful in prescribing medicines.
  • Always carry some anti allergy tabs and keep them handy.