Asthma Medications

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Download the Asthma Medications – What You Need to Know PDF.


There are two main types of asthma medications: quick-relief (or reliever) and long-term control (or controllers). Talk to your health care provider to determine the medication(s) you should use.

Quick-relief Medication (Reliever)

Who should have it?

  • Everyone with asthma should be prescribed quick-relief medication by a health care provider
  • Carry it with you at all times

How does it work?

  • Relieves the squeezing of the muscles around the airways
  • Works within 10 to 15 minutes of use

When should it be used?

  • Upon first warning sign

What are the side effects?

  • Rapid heart rate, shaky hands, jittery feeling
  • Symptoms go away a half-hour after using your medication

What are some common types?

  • Pro Air®
  • Proventil®
  • Ventolin®
  • Xopenex®

Helpful tips

  • Label your quick-relief medication with “QR”
  • Use a spacer with your quick-relief inhaler so the medication gets deeper into your lungs


Long-Term Controller Medication

Who Should Have It?

  • Only those with a prescription

How Does It Work?

  • Prevents swelling and mucus build up in the airways
  • Makes airways less sensitive to triggers

When Should It be Used?

  • Every day
  • Even if you do not have symptoms

What are the Side Effects?

  • Hoarseness
  • Thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth (rinse your mouth with water and spit to avoid thrush)

What are Some Common Types?

  • Advair
  • Flovent
  • Pulmincort
  • Qvar
  • Singulair
  • Symbicort

Helpful Tips

  • Do not store in the bathroom (humidity can make medication clump)
  • Use a spacer with your long-term controller inhaler so the medication gets deeper into your lungs


This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.