Do you know that more than 25 million people in the United States have asthma and around 14.8 million adults are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?
The prevalence of the respiratory diseases and the fact that they not only affect the patients’ quality of life, but can also be genetically transferred, make them a huge concern for the government – the reason being the lost productivity of the affected individuals and the high healthcare costs.
Treatment of Respiratory Diseases
While there is no cure for respiratory diseases, like asthma and COPD, they can be significantly controlled to ease symptoms, reduce the rate of progression and chances of complications, and to improve the overall quality of life.
There are many reliable medicines that make life easier for asthma and COPD patients; Advair is one of them.
Advair is the brand name for a combination medication with the active ingredients fluticasone propionate and salmeterol. Used for treating asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Advair is an FDA-approved prescription medicine that comes in the form of an inhaler in two varieties – Advair Diskus and Advair HFA.
Advair is only prescribed to severe asthma patients who do not find relief from other commonly used medications. It can also be prescribed to patients suffering from COPD and emphysema. Since it is a strong medication, the doctor may discontinue it once the disease is under control. But, generally, patients of COPD are required to take the medication for a longer period of time than the patients of asthma.
What Is The Difference Between Advair Diskus And Advair HFA?
Both the varieties of Advair contain the same combination of medicine, but what sets them apart is the delivery method of these drugs. Advair Diskus comes in powder form, whereas Advair HFA delivers the medicine in an aerosol form.
How Does Advair Help With Asthma And COPD?
Fluticasone Propionate is a steroid drug that can reduce inflammation in the lungs by reducing or preventing the release of inflammation-causing substances in the body. Salmeterol, on the other hand, is a bronchodilator that helps improve breathing by relaxing the muscles of the airway.
Fluticasone is a synthetic corticosteroid that is similar to the hormone naturally produced by the adrenal gland i.e. cortisol or hydrocortisone and has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Salmeterol, on the other hand, is a type of beta-2 agonist bronchodilator. Medicines that belong to this category get attached to the naturally found beta-2 receptors on the muscle cells around the airways and cause them to relax. As a result, the airways are opened and make breathing easier.
Advair also helps to prevent flare-ups and worsening of the diseases.
How Should Advair Be Used?
As mentioned earlier, Advair is a strong medicine and hence, should be used exactly as prescribed by a doctor.
You should never change the dosage or take the medicine for more than the prescribed period; using Advair for extended periods can cause some serious side effects.
Does Advair Work for Asthma Attacks?
No! Advair’s mechanism of action is not fast enough to provide relief in bronchospasm and/or asthma attacks. Hence, it cannot be used as a rescue medicine.
In case of attacks, patients should use the fast-acting inhaler and consult a doctor as soon as possible because it may call for a change in the dosage of Advair. However, as mentioned earlier, do not change the dosage of the medicine on your own.
What to Do In Case You Miss a Dose
If you miss a dose of Advair for any reason, try to take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose, then you should skip the missed dose and take the next dosage on its time.
Do not take a double dose to make up for the missed one because overdose can cause:
- Chest pain
- Increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Makes you feel shaky
Immediately seek medical help if you have overdosed on Advair.
Who Should Not Take Advair?
Advair should not be taken by people who are allergic to salmeterol, serevent, fluticasone , or milk proteins.
The medicine should also be avoided in case a patient is experiencing severe symptoms of COPD or having a severe asthma attack.
Precautions While Taking Advair
When on Advair, you should avoid being near people who have an infection or are sick. Also, you should immediately seek medical help if you get chicken pox or measles because when you are using a medicine that contains steroid (fluticasone in case of Advair), even these relatively harmless conditions can have serious effects. Although rare, but they can even be fatal.
Types of Advair
As mentioned earlier, Advair is available in two forms:
1. Advair Diskus
The powdered formula of Advair can be prescribed to asthma patients aged 4 years and older. It comes in the form of a round disk-like inhaler that contains measured dosages in form of blister packs. Every time, you open the inhaler for use, a blister pack is loaded. This ensures that you only get the required amount of medicine and not overdose on it. The unique shape of Advair Diskus pumps the drug into the airways of the patient.
To prevent the ingestion of any residue, the Diskus needs to be regularly cleaned.
Advair Diskus is available in three different combinations of fluticasone propionate and salmeterol xinafoate – 100/50, 250/50, and 500/50.
In all three forms, the quantity of salmeterol is the same; only the amount of fluticasone changes.
Use of Advair Diskus is not advised for patients of acute bronchospasm.
The recommended dosage of Advair Diskus is 1 inhalation or spray twice a day, with at least 12 hours gap. However, always consult a doctor to determine the right dosage for yourself.
Advair Diskus should only be orally inhaled and you should always rinse your mouth immediately after the inhalation, without swallowing. This is to reduce the risk of oropharyngeal candidiasis, commonly known as oral thrush.
How Long Does The Medicine Take To Provide Relief?
The action of Advair Diskus starts within 30 to 60 minutes of administering a dosage. The effects of the medicine can last for more than 12 hours.
Are There Any Side Effects of Advair Diskus?
While Advair Diskus falls into the category of safe medicines and does not have any serious side effects, it does have a few effects (scientists have yet to come up with a medicine with zero side effects).
Some of the common side effects of Advair Diskus are:
- Body ache
- Dry throat
- Upset stomach
- Changes in voice
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty in swallowing food
- High-pitched breathing sounds
In rare cases, a person taking Advair Diskus might experience one or more severe side effects, such as:
- Chest pain
- Throat and mouth infections
- Allergic reactions
- Breathlessness soon after taking the dose
- Irregular heartbeat
- Vision problems
- Increased anxiety
- Increased vulnerability to infections
No matter what kind of side effects you experience, severe or less severe, immediately inform your doctor about them. In case of serious side effects, discontinue the drug as well.
2. Advair HFA
Available in the form of a regular inhaler, Advair HFA serves the same purpose as the Advair Diskus i.e. to relieve breathing issues and to help prevent asthma attacks.
Advair HFA is also available in three different concentrations of fluticasone – 45, 115, and 230 mcg. The amount of salmeterol stays same in all forms i.e. 21 mcg.
The recommended dosage for Advari HFA is 2 inhalation or spray twice a day. However, the lowest effective dosage is recommended to be used, so always consult a doctor to determine the right dose for you.
Side Effects of Advair HFA
Some of the common side effects of Advair HFA are:
- Mild pain in bones and muscles
- Irritation and/or swelling in throat
Although severe side effects of Advair HFA are quite rare, it is better to be aware and careful. Immediately discontinue the medicine and consult your doctor if you experience any of the following conditions:
- Extreme mood swings
- Severe allergic reactions
- Feeling of tightness in the chest
- Blurred vision
- Irregular heartbeat
- Severe muscle cramps
- Symptoms associated with hypertension
- Persistent pain in the bones
- Abnormal vaginal discharge or odor
- Worsening of the symptoms of COPD or asthma
- Weight gain
Possible Drug Interactions of Advair
The drugs present in Advair can interact with the following medicines:
- Ritonavir (Norvir), Telithromycin (Ketek), Indinavir (Crixivan), Nelfinavir (Viracept), Clarithromycin (Biaxin), Atazanavir (Reyataz), Itraconazole (Sporanox), and Ketoconazole may reduce the rate of flucticasone breakdown by liver enzymes. As a result, the levels of fluticasone will increase, which then could increase the severity of the side effects of Advair.
- Advair should not be used with or within two weeks of using monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOAIs) and tricyclic antidepressants because they can increase the effects of salmeterol on the blood pressure and heart.
- Asthma patients should avoid taking beta-blockers unless absolutely necessary because they block the effects of salmeterol. Beta-blockers may also initiate severe bronchospasm in asthma patients. Even when necessary, only mild beta-blockers should be used.
Where to Buy Advair From?
Any medication, prescribed or over-the-counter, should always be bought from a registered/certified seller. The chances of falling prey to uncertified sellers, who may be selling fake products, are higher when you buy medications from online pharmacies.
Not all online pharmacies are uncertified though. So, always confirm if the seller is reliable and certified before purchasing.
Prescription Assistance for Advair
For patients in the U.S. who cannot afford to buy Advair or any other medication, there are many prescription assistance programs and facilities available in almost every state that provide the prescription medications at a low-cost or for free.
All you have to do is to find a prescription assistance program and apply for it by filling out an application form.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance is a website that helps uninsured or underinsured patients find the right prescription assistance programs for their medications.
Rx Assist is another similar platform that helps patients find their required medications at a low-cost or for free. You just have to enter the name of the medicine that you need and it will provide you the list of assistance programs that offer it. For example, according to RX Assits’s database, both Advair Diskus and Advair HFA are provided by the GSK patient Assistance programs.
Being not able to afford a medication doesn’t mean you should compromise on your health. With hundreds of prescription assistance programs, available all over the country, you will surely find one you qualify for. Apply for it and receive all your prescription medicines at minimal rates or for free.