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Asthma - control drugs

Description

Control medicines for asthma are drugs you take to control your asthma symptoms. You must use these medicines every day for them to work well. You and your health care provider 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.

Alternative Names

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

Inhaled Corticosteroids

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 provider 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.

Combination Therapy

Your provider 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.

Leukotriene Modifiers

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

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.

References

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 January 27, 2020.

Drazen JM, Bel EH. Asthma. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 81.

O'Byrne PM, Satia I. Inhaled ß 2 –agonists. In: Burks AW, Holgate ST, O'Hehir RE, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 93.

Papi A, Brightling C, Pedersen SE, Reddel HK. Asthma. Lancet. 2018;391(10122):783-800. PMID: 29273246 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29273246/.

Pollart SM, DeGeorge KC. Asthma in children. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2020. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:1199-1206.

Vishwanathan RK, Busse WW. Management of asthma in adolescents and adults. In: Burks AW, Holgate ST, O'Hehir RE, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 52.


Review Date: 1/13/2020
Reviewed 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.
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