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What Is the Connection between NSAIDs and Asthma?

H. Lo
H. Lo

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a type medication used to treat inflammation, fever and pain. Asthma is a medical condition in which inflammation occurs in the airways. As NSAIDs treat inflammation, one might think that the relationship between NSAIDs and asthma is that the medication helps treat the condition, but that is not actually the case. The connection between NSAIDs and asthma is that, for some people, NSAIDs are asthma triggers. It is not known exactly why this connection between NSAIDs and asthma exists, but as there are various types of asthma triggers, the relationship between NSAIDs and asthma is not unusual.

There are a variety of NSAIDs, including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, and just because one type of NSAID is an asthma trigger for someone does not mean that all NSAIDs will be triggers for him or her as well. As such, it is not necessary for an affected person to avoid medications unless he has known triggers for his specific condition. Aside from NSAIDs, other drugs that can be potential asthma triggers are angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and beta blockers. Additional asthma triggers also include allergens like dander, dust and mold, as well as pollen. To understand and pinpoint asthma triggers, a person should speak with his or her doctor.

An asthma inhaler.
An asthma inhaler.

Asthma itself is characterized by symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath, as well as tightness in the chest and wheezing. Serious symptoms, which require immediate medical attention, include bluish color of the face or lips, difficulty breathing and severe confusion or drowsiness. Some people have serious asthma, which can affect their way of living. For example, a person with serious asthma might be unable to engage in certain activities, like exercise, because of the consequences that can arise. Also, a person might have serious asthma to the point that he or she needs to use a breathing assistance device, such as a ventilator.


Although asthma has no cure, an affected person can prevent and relieve symptoms of asthma attacks. For treatment, there are two different types of medications that a person might take: control drugs and quick-relief drugs. Control drugs are used to help prevent attacks, while quick-relief drugs help to alleviate symptoms during an attack. Prevention also entails avoiding any known asthma triggers, such as NSAIDs if they apply to a person’s own condition. Of course, a severe asthma attack does require immediate medical attention since the condition can be potentially fatal.

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