Medications and Asthma

You use medications to help treat or manage your pain. However, sometimes your medications can have the opposite effect. Typically, this happens when you have an allergy to the medicine or when the medication limits your body’s ability to perform certain functions, such as make inflammatory responses. These responses fight off foreign invaders, such as allergens, viruses, and bacteria. Thus, medications can make you more susceptible to events that can worsen your symptoms or trigger asthma attacks. Consult with your healthcare provider before using these medications if you have asthma.


Aspirin is prescribed to treat pain, fevers, and inflammation. Most people experience some benefit. However, some don’t. These people often have an aspirin intolerance or sensitivity 1. In short, their bodies negatively react to the medication.

Your healthcare provider recommends aspirin to treat pain, fever, and inflammation. However, people with aspirin intolerance or sensitivity 2 have negative reactions to this medication. Aspirin prevents your body from producing certain enzymes. As a result, your body produces lots of inflammatory cells in your airways. These cells are what cause the signs and symptoms of asthma. 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Skin irritation
  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Possible loss of consciousness

If you have a sensitivity to aspirin, your body reacts in a sequence. You start by experiencing respiratory symptoms, and then you will notice your asthma symptoms worsen. In some cases, this reaction can cause you to have an asthma attack or to have violent or fatal reactions. If you have a sensitivity or intolerance, avoiding aspirin and using your asthma therapies is the best way to control your asthma. 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are another type of medication that can trigger your asthma in people with sensitivities 3. NSAIDs block enzymes that produce inflammation in the body. However, if you have a sensitivity, you experience the opposite effect; your body produces inflammatory cells in your airways. The production of these cells causes asthma symptoms. 

  • Airway obstruction 
  • Trouble breathing 
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Hives 
  • Low blood pressure

The best thing to do if NSAIDS trigger your asthma is to avoid them. Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you use your inhaler as soon as you notice a change in your symptoms.


Antibiotics are a class of medications that healthcare providers use to treat bacterial infections. These medications kill the bacteria that cause the infection. However, they also affect your digestive tract. Your digestive tract has good and bad bacteria to keep your system balanced. Antibiotics cannot tell the difference between the infection-causing bacteria and the naturally occurring bacteria. So, they essentially disrupt your good bacteria and throw off your digestive system.

Antibiotics may not directly bring on an asthma attack. However, when they disrupt your internal system, they increase your risk for different illnesses and infections, like late-onset asthma. There are ways for you to replace your good bacteria and reduce your risk for complications.

  • Eat yogurt with live cultures 
  • Use an over-the-counter probiotic