Asthma Medicines

There are two main types of asthma medicines: Controllers and Relievers. Controllers work to help prevent swelling, inflammation, and extra mucous inside the airways. Relievers relax the muscles around the outside of the airways. They are also called fast-acting bronchodilators.

Asthma Medicines

Most asthma medicines are inhaled into the lungs. Not every child needs both types of asthma medicines. Every child should have a Reliever.

Things You Should Know About My Asthma Medicine:

  • How to use it

  • Why it is used

  • How it works

  • How often it should be used

  • How long it should be used for

  • Problems if taken with other medicines

  • Possible side effects

  • Cost

Controller Medicine –

Controllers are the most important medicines for asthma control. Controllers work slowly over a few days and must be used every day. Controllers are started or increased at the first sign of a cold or worsening asthma. Controllers medicine can be a steroid or non-steroid medicines. Singulair® (montelukast) is a Controller medicine that is a non-steroid. It comes as a pill. Combination medicines contain both a Controller and a long-acting Reliever medicine.

Examples of Controller Medicines:






(Fluticasone & salmeterol*)

Symbicort®(budesonide & formoterol*)

Reliever Medicine –

  • They relieve asthma symptoms (cough, wheeze, shortness of breath and chest tightness).
  • Relievers do not work on the swelling inside of the airways.
  • Relievers work quickly and most work for a short period of time.
  • Relievers should help asthma symptoms within 10 minutes.
  • Relievers can be used 10-15 minutes before exercise to prevent asthma symptoms.
  • If the Reliever medicine is needed more than 3 times a week, asthma is NOT controlled.
  • Symbicort contains formoterol and may also sometimes be used as a Reliever.

Examples of Reliever Medicines:





Asthma Medicines

  • Keep your Reliever medicine with you at all times.
  • Keep track of how much medicine you have, when it expires, and when you need a refill.
  • Keep track of your asthma symptoms so you can let your doctor know how well your asthma medicine works.
  • If the Reliever medicine does not begin to work in 10 minutes, go to the emergency room.
  • If you need your Reliever medicine every four hours, call your doctor. If needed more than every three hours, go to the emergency room.
  • If a Reliever medicine is used more than three times in a week, you may need a Controller medicine to keep asthma in control.

Asthma Allie Says:

“Ask your asthma educator, doctor or pharmacist to show you how to correctly use your inhaler“