The drugs for the respiratory tract are those drugs that are used to allow good breathing and resolve – to the extent possible – the respiratory diseases. Depending on the condition treated, the respiratory drugs can be divided into: Bronchodilator drugs (to treat asthma and chronic respiratory lung disease). In turn they are classified into:


  • ß-adrenergic sympathomimetic agents: act as antagonists of bronchoconstriction caused by numerous stimuli (relax bronchial muscles). They are the most widely prescribed drugs. Albuterol, terbutaline and fenoterol act on a short-term (2-3 hours). Salmeterol, bambuterol, and aformoterolo act on a long-term (up to 15 hours);


  • Anticholinergics: prevent the stimulation of the receptors on the bronchial smooth muscle. Do not prevent all types of bronchospasm, but are particularly effective against the one caused by irritants. They are: ipratropium bromide (inhaled), oxitropium bromide (inhaled) and atropine (systemic administration);


  • Methylxanthines: widely used in asthma therapy beginning in late 1800s. They have a short half-life, but it is possible to administer slow-release preparations that maintain effective plasma concentrations for 16-18 hours;


  • Inhibitors of the release of mast cell mediators: they inhibit the release of mediators contained in mast cells and slow down the activity of other inflammatory cells. They are used for the prophylaxis of asthma attacks. Cromolyn sodium (cromolyn sodium) and nedocromil sodium are used through inhalation; ketotifen is taken orally;


  • Anti-inflammatory steroids: they are the most widely used anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of chronic inflammatory process caused primarily by asthma. They inhibit infiltration of inflammatory cells and their ability to produce and release inflammatory mediators. Beclomethasone, budesonide and fluticasone are used for prophylaxis by inhalation. Prednisone, methylprednisolone and prednisolone are used orally against severe bronchial asthma;


  • Antagonists of receptors of leukotrienes (inflammatory mediators): innovative medicines still being evaluated for usefulness in the treatment of asthma. Overall it appears they have a modest effect;


Anti-cough medications can in turn be classified into:


  • Mucolytics: substances used to thin the viscous sputum and improve expectoration (acetylcysteine, carbocysteine, methylcysteine, mesna and stepronina);


  • Drugs that act at the level of nervous system: opiates such as morphine, heroin and codeine effectively inhibit the nerve centers associated with cough. Codeine has long been used in anti-cough syrups;


Furthermore, anti-rhinitis medications can be classified into:


  • α-adrenergic agonists: directly (direct agonists) or indirectly (indirect agonists) active drugs on α-adrenergic receptors, mostly found on the smooth muscle fiber membrane;


  • Antihistamines H1: act as antagonists of the pharmacological effects of histamine by blocking the H1 receptor (diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, pirilamina, Tripelennamine, hydroxyzine, chlorcyclizine, promethazine);


  • Cromoglycate (cromolyn sodium): acts as an antagonist of the pharmacological effects by inhibiting histamine release;


How should respiratory drugs be taken?


The drugs for the respiratory tract are available in the form of tablets, capsules, syrups or suspensions to be taken orally, or in the form of solutions for injections. They must always be used under prescription and by strictly following the instructions of a doctor regarding the dosage and mode of application. Not doing so can reduce the absorption of the drug or render the treatment useless as well as cause a health health.


Contraindications and warnings associated with the use of respiratory drugs


There are many respiratory apparatus drugs and of different types, which can also act on very different mechanisms between them. They can therefore give rise to several side effects, which may also vary according to the dosage. In general, however, the intake of these drugs can lead to:


– Gastrointestinal disorders: nausea, vomiting, constipation;

– Dermatological disorders: rashes, irritation of the mucous membrane of the throat;

– Musculoskeletal disorders: muscle cramps;

– Cardiac disorders: palpitations, arrhythmia and tachycardia;

– Central disorders: hypotension, sleep problems, headaches, nervousness, tremors, restlessness, dizziness, convulsions;


In cases of pregnancy and nursing, administration of drugs for the respiratory system requires careful evaluation of the clinical benefits for the mother and the potential risk to the unborn child. Contraindications exist in the case of elderly patients with fragility, heart disease, liver disease, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes.