Asthma: Medicine Management

If you have asthma, learning how and when to use all of your medicines can be key to preventing the condition from interfering with your life.

For every medicine you take, you should know:

  • The type of medicine — preventive or quick relief.
  • How to take it, how much to take and when to take it.
  • How long to take it.
  • Possible side effects and how to avoid them.
  • How much it costs.
  • Whether you can get two prescriptions, so that one can be kept at school or work.
  • Whether you need a spacer (if the medicine is in a pump) and how you can get one.

If you are unsure about any of the above details, ask your doctor during your next visit.

Types of Medicines

Your doctor may prescribe the following types of medicines to help you control your asthma:

  • Controller Medicines: These medicines can prevent attacks for people who experience daytime symptoms more than twice a week or nighttime symptoms more than twice a month. They should be taken daily, even if you feel fine.

  • Quick-Relief Medicines: These medicines can relieve symptoms once you start to feel them. You should carry quick-relief medicine with you at all times, but do not use it too often. This medicine can make you feel better for a little while, but it does not stop your lungs from getting swollen or prevent a future serious episode. If you are using quick-relief medicine every day, or if you use it more than four times in one day, then talk to your doctor about controller medicines to prevent attacks.

  • Spacers: Many asthma medicines are inhaled. If you use a metered dose inhaler or pump, be sure to use a spacer. Spacers help to get the right amount of medicine directly to your lungs. Follow your doctor’s instructions for administering medicine and avoid anything that can make asthma symptoms worse.

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