Treatments for managing viral-induced asthma include a combination of medications for quick relief and long-term control. These treatments may include bronchodilators and corticosteroids.

Viral-induced asthma occurs when a virus triggers an asthma attack.

Viruses cause the majority of asthma exacerbations, often resulting in doctors increasing medication or admitting people to the hospital. The rhinovirus, which causes the common cold and can result in respiratory infections, is the most common trigger for viral asthma.

In this article, we will discuss treatment options for viral asthma, including medications for quick relief and long-term control of the condition.

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The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) advises that most people with asthma need two kinds of medications: quick relief and long-term control.

People can use quick relief medications at the first sign of asthma symptoms for immediate relief. They include short-acting inhaled beta-2 agonists (SABA inhalers) and anticholinergics.

Both these medications are bronchodilators that expand the passageways into the lungs. This allows more air to move in and out and enables someone to breathe more easily. The medicines also help clear the mucus from the lungs by making it move more freely so that someone can cough it up easier.

However, the ACAAI notes that even though quick-relief medications can stop asthma symptoms, they do not control the cause, which is airway inflammation. This is where long-term medications come in.

A 2019 review notes that the most effective maintenance treatment plan for viral asthma includes inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists (LABAs).

Inhaled corticosteroids include:

  • fluticasone
  • budesonide
  • mometasone
  • beclomethasone
  • ciclesonide

LABA medications include:

  • salmeterol
  • formoterol
  • vilanterol

Doctors may also prescribe anti-leukotrienes or leukotriene modifiers, including:

  • montelukast sodium
  • zafirlukast
  • zileuton

The ACAAI explains that it is advisable for people with asthma to take these medications daily, even if they do not have symptoms. They help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms.

Additionally, evidence suggests that doctors may prescribe biologics, such as omalizumab, to help control asthma symptoms and reduce the number of exacerbations. Finally, thermoplasty is another nonpharmacological treatment that can help manage severe asthma that does not respond to the maximum medical treatment.

The most prominent trigger of asthma exacerbations is viral respiratory tract illness. The virus that most commonly causes exacerbates asthma is rhinovirus, the common cold virus.

A 2019 review explains that exacerbations tend to happen in some people more than others, making them prone to them. The review adds that there are several factors that scientists know contribute to the frequency of asthma exacerbations. These include:

Evidence indicates that to prevent asthmatic exacerbation, doctors must identify the patient’s risk factors. These may include having other conditions or diseases and not adhering to treatment plans. This may make it more difficult for people to manage their symptoms.

Additionally, there is the highest seasonal incidence in the fall. Therefore, evidence suggests that using biologics 4–6 weeks before returning to school can significantly lower the incidence rate of exacerbations in schoolchildren. Doctors can also prescribe biologics for asthma all year round if necessary.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America suggests the following tips for preventing respiratory infections, which may trigger viral asthma:

  • washing the hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, especially after touching surfaces such as door handles
  • avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • getting a flu vaccine
  • asking a doctor about getting the pneumococcal vaccine
  • is possible, avoiding contact with people who are sick
  • keeping breathing equipment, such as inhalers, clean and not sharing them with others

According to a 2019 review, 7–10 days before an asthma exacerbation, a person may experience reduced airflow and a gradual increase in symptoms.

This process continues until the symptoms are notable, and a doctor may prescribe medications. Subsequently, there will usually be an improvement in symptoms a few days later.

Treatment options for viral-induced asthma include medications for quick relief, such as SABA inhalers and anticholinergics, and long-term control, including inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists.

Some people are more prone to asthma exacerbation than others, and doctors may review risk factors and other conditions that someone needs to manage. In addition, people can help prevent viral infections by practicing good hygiene and avoiding individuals who are sick, if possible.