Control medicines for asthma are drugs you take to control your asthma symptoms. You must take them every day for them to work. You and your doctor can make a plan for the medicines that work for you. This plan will include when you should take them and how much you should take.
You may need to take these medicines for at least a month before you start to feel better.
Take the medicines even when you feel OK. Take enough with you when you travel. Plan ahead. Make sure you do not run out.
Inhaled corticosteroids prevent your airways from swelling in order to help keep your asthma symptoms away.
Inhaled steroids are used with a metered dose inhaler (MDI) and spacer. Or, they may be used with a dry powder inhaler.
You should use an inhaled steroid every day, even if you do not have symptoms.
After you use it, rinse your mouth with water, gargle, and spit it out.
If your child cannot use an inhaler, your doctor will give you a drug to use with a nebulizer. This machine turns liquid medicine into a spray so your child can breathe the medicine in.
Long-acting Beta-agonist Inhalers
These medicines relax the muscles of your airways to help keep your asthma symptoms away.
Normally, you use these medicines only when you are using an inhaled steroid drug and you still have symptoms. DO NOT take these long-acting medicines alone.
Use this medicine every day, even if you do not have symptoms.
Your doctor may ask you to take both a steroid drug and a long-acting beta-agonist drug.
It may be easier to use an inhaler that has both drugs in them.
These medicines are used to prevent asthma symptoms. They come in tablet or pill form and can be used together with a steroid inhaler.
Cromolyn is a medicine that may prevent asthma symptoms. It can be used in a nebulizer, so it may be easy for young children to take.
Asthma - inhaled corticosteroids; Asthma - long-acting beta-agonists; Asthma - leukotriene modifiers; Asthma - cromolyn; Bronchial asthma-control drugs; Wheezing - control drugs; Reactive airway disease - control drugs
Bergstrom J, Kurth SM, Bruhl E, et al. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement website. Health Care Guideline: Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. 11th ed. www.icsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Asthma.pdf. Updated December 2016. Accessed February 28, 2018.
Durrani SR, Busse WW. Management of asthma in adolescents and adults. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 55.
Papi A, Brightling C, Pedersen SE, Reddel HK. Asthma. Lancet. 2018;391(10122):783-800. PMID: 29273246 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29273246.
- Asthma and school
- Asthma - child - discharge
- Asthma in adults - what to ask the doctor
- Asthma in children - what to ask your doctor
- Asthma - quick-relief drugs
- Bronchiolitis - discharge
- Exercise-induced asthma
- Exercising and asthma at school
- How to use a nebulizer
- How to use an inhaler - no spacer
- How to use an inhaler - with spacer
- How to use your peak flow meter
- Make peak flow a habit
- Signs of an asthma attack
- Stay away from asthma triggers
Review Date 2/18/2018
Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. 02-25-19: Editorial update.