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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More common asthma questions

Every day at we get lots of asthma related questions. Below are some questions I thought my readers at the RT Cave would enjoy.

Question: What is a generic replacement for Asmanex. Our medical insurance (Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arkansas) will no longer cover the Asmanex Inhaler of which my wife uses on a daily basis. Without insurance it will cost about $127 which turns out to be the cheapest. Is there a generic alternative that can be covered by insurance.

My humble answer: That's unfortunate they will no longer cover this medicine, especially if it works well to control your wife's asthma.

Unfortunately for us asthmatics anyway, asmanex is covered under a patent that will not expire until June of 2009, at which time it will be possible for generics to be made.

Thankfully, though, there are other corticosteroid inhalers that are available for asthmatics that are available, such as Flovent. By working with your insurance company and your physician, you should (hopefully) be able to find a corticosteroid they will cover.

Question: Is there a generic for symbicort. Also, I would like to know if there are any side effects when taking foracort 200 inhaler. My 5 year old daughter has been prescribed Foracort for 2 months.

My humble answer: Foracort is the generic form of Symbicort, and therefore has the same side effects as Symbicort. The most common side effects of this medicine are the same as for Symbicort, and include, "Headache, nausea, nervousness, trouble sleeping, cough, hoarseness, or throat irritation."

Also, side effects of this medicine are rare if the medicine is used only as prescribed, and if you have your child rinse his mouth out really well after each use. For more information about this drug, click here.

Question: At what point do I go to the hospital instead of using my inhaler?

My humble answer: It's best to set aside a time where you work together with your doctor to create an asthma action plan to help you decide when to go to the ER. Many doctors (and RTs too) recommend asthmatics use a peak flow meter to help them decide when to use an inhaler and at what point to go to the ER. Likewise, if you find yourself using your rescue inhaler more than recommended, you should probably at least make a call. I explain this in more detail in this post.

Likewise, if your sitting around stressing about what to do, it's probably time to either call your doctor or go to the ER, as I describe in this post, "Having Asthma Symptoms: Here's 5 tips to help you decide what to do."

Question: f ur depressed can it make u have an asthma attack?

My humble answer: Depression cannot cause asthma, but it can trigger an attack. If your friend is having trouble with breathing the best thing for her to do is talk with her doctor. There are medicines available that can treat and prevent acute asthma symptoms.

Kathi MacNaughton, a fellow asthma expert at, provides some excellent tips for dealing with asthma/depression in her post, "Asthma and Mental Illness: Is There a Link?"

It is true that stress can lead to anxiety, stress and depression. Likewise, those illnesses can be asthma triggers as well. If you are having problems with any of these, contact your doctor immediately.

Likewise, know that you are not alone. If you read my asthma story, I've written about (or will) how I was depressed and anxious as a child. While I felt I was alone back then, I recently discovered there is a proven link between asthma and anxiety/depression.

Both asthma and the related anxiety/depression are both treatable.

If you have any further questions you can .

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