E-mail Form
Email Results

 
 
Print-Friendly
Bookmarks
bookmarks-menu

Asthma - control drugs

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

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.

Test Your Inhaler IQ

  • Most people with asthma use an inhaler to take their medicines.

     

    A. True

     

    B. False

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is true. When people with asthma use an inhaler, they breathe in their medicine. The medicines go directly to their airways. Asthma medicines also come as pills or liquid. Your doctor will help you find the right medicine for you and the best way to take it.
  • What are the main types of inhalers?

     

    A. Metered-dose inhaler (MDI)

     

    B. MDI with a spacer

     

    C. Dry powder inhaler

     

    D. All of the above

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is all of the above. Not all inhalers are used the same way. Follow the directions and ask your pharmacist if you have questions about them. Bring your inhaler to your medical appointments so your doctor can make sure you are using it correctly.
  • Can children use inhalers?

     

    A. Yes

     

    B. No

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is yes. Children can use an inhaler – and they should have a spacer for it. The spacer tube helps them get the medicine into their lungs properly. A nebulizer is another option, especially for younger children. This machine turns asthma medicine into a mist children can breathe in.
  • Which of the following statements about spacers is NOT true?

     

    A. They come in different shapes and sizes

     

    B. Spacers help you breathe in your medicine slowly and more completely

     

    C. You should always use a spacer with a dry powder inhaler

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is you should always use a spacer with a dry powder inhaler. You do not need a spacer when using a dry powder inhaler. But a spacer makes it easier to use an MDI. Some inhaled medicines can irritate the mouth and throat. A spacer can help because it enables more medicine to get to your airways.
  • Inhaled steroids are usually the first choice for what type of asthma treatment?

     

    A. Quick relief

     

    B. Long-term control

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is long-term control. Inhaled steroids prevent asthma symptoms by reducing airway swelling. They're preferred medicines because they are safe and work well. The best way to manage your asthma is to take your long-term control drugs every day, even when you feel good.
  • Are inhaled steroids safe for children?

     

    A. Yes

     

    B. No

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is A Yes. Inhaled steroids can slow a child's growth a small amount in the first months of use, but this is uncommon. Having asthma that is not controlled can also slow growth. Talk with your doctor about what's best for you or your child.
  • It's a good idea to do this after using your MDI.

     

    A. Rinse your mouth

     

    B. Take a nap

     

    C. Get a new inhaler

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is rinse your mouth. This can also help reduce the chance of side effects -- such as throat and mouth irritation -- from your medicine. Rinse your mouth with water, gargle, and spit the water out.
  • Your MDI needs regular cleaning.

     

    A. True

     

    B. False

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is true. Cleaning your inhaler will help keep it working right. Remove the metal canister from the mouthpiece. Rinse the mouthpiece and cap in warm water and let dry. Place the canister back inside, and put the cap on.
  • Is there a way to know when I'll need to refill my control medicine?

     

    A. Yes

     

    B. No

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is yes. Divide the number of puffs listed on your canister by the number of puffs you take each day. This is how many days your canister will last. Write the date you need to replace it on the canister so you'll know when to get more.
  • How should I store my MDI?

     

    A. Keep it in a cold room

     

    B. Keep it as warm as you can

     

    C. At room temperature

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is at room temperature. Your MDI may not work well if it is too cold. Also, the medicine in the canister is under pressure, so don't let it get too hot or poke a hole in it. Keep your inhaler in a place that's easy to remember, so you'll always have it when you need it.

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 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.

Combination Therapy

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.

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 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.

  • Inhaler with spacer - adults

    Animation

  •  

    Inhaler with spacer - adults - Animation

    If you have a chronic lung disease, like asthma or COPD, a metered-dose inhaler is often your main type of therapy. An inhaler is a small, hand-held device that delivers medicine in the form of a spray that you breathe in. Using an inhaler may seem easy, but many people don't use them the right way. You need to know how to use your inhaler correctly for the medicine to get to your lungs and work effectively. A spacer device will help. The spacer connects to the inhaler mouthpiece, and the medicine goes into the spacer tube first. This allows you to breathe in the medicine more easily. Using a spacer wastes a lot less medicine than spraying the medicine directly into your mouth. It also makes it less important to get the exact timing for activating the inhaler while taking in a breath. These are instructions for using an inhaler with a spacer. First off, if you have not used the inhaler in a while, you may need to prime it. See the instructions that came with your inhaler for when and how to do this. Take the caps off the inhaler and spacer. Look inside each mouthpiece to make sure there is nothing in it. Shake the inhaler 10 to 15 times to mix the medicine with the propellant. Attach the inhaler mouthpiece to the open end of the spacer and hold it upright. Stand or sit upright. Breathe out all the way to empty your lungs. Place the spacer mouthpiece in your mouth so that it fits just past your teeth and above your tongue. Close your lips around the spacer so that you form a tight seal. Tilt your head back slightly. As you slowly begin to breathe in through your mouth, press down once on the top of the inhaler. Keep breathing in slowly, as deeply as you can. Your spacer may have a whistle that sounds if you breathe in too fast. Take the spacer out of your mouth. Hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds. This lets the medicine reach deep into your lungs. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. If you need a second puff, wait about 1 minute before you take your next puff. Put the caps back on the inhaler and spacer. After using your inhaler, gargle and rinse your mouth with water. Do not swallow the water. This helps reduce side effects from your medicine. To keep your inhaler and spacer operating correctly, you need to keep them clean. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for when and how often to clean your inhaler and spacer. Using your inhaler with a spacer the right way ensures you get the medicine you need. It's a good idea to bring your inhaler and spacer to your medical appointments. That way your health care provider can make sure you are using them correctly.

  • Inhaler with no spacer - adults

    Animation

  •  

    Inhaler with no spacer - adults - Animation

    If you have a chronic lung disease, like asthma or COPD, a metered-dose inhaler is often your main type of therapy. An inhaler is a small, hand-held device that delivers medicine in the form of a spray that you breathe in. Using an inhaler may seem easy, but many people don't use them the right way. You need to know how to use your inhaler correctly for the medicine to get to your lungs and work effectively. In general, using the inhaler without a spacer requires more coordination in order to ensure that medicine reaches your lungs. So, when possible, it's best to use a spacer. These are instructions for using an inhaler without a spacer. First off, if you have not used the inhaler in a while, you may need to prime it. See the instructions that came with your inhaler for when and how to do this. Take the cap off the mouthpiece, and look inside the mouthpiece to make sure there is nothing in it. Shake the inhaler 10 to 15 times to mix the medicine with the propellant. Hold the inhaler upright. Stand or sit upright. Breathe out all the way to empty your lungs. Place the mouthpiece in your mouth so that it fits just past your teeth and above your tongue. Close your lips around the inhaler so that you form a tight seal. Tilt your head back slightly. As you slowly begin to breathe in through your mouth, press down once on the top of the inhaler. Keep breathing in slowly, as deeply as you can. Take the inhaler out of your mouth. Hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds. This lets the medicine reach deep into your lungs. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. If you need a second puff, wait about 1 minute before you take your next puff. Put the cap back on the inhaler and make sure it is firmly closed. After using your inhaler, gargle and rinse your mouth with water. Do not swallow the water. This helps reduce side effects from your medicine. To keep your inhaler operating correctly, follow the manufacturer's instructions for when and how often to clean your inhaler. Using your inhaler the right way ensures you get the medicine you need. It's a good idea to bring your inhaler to your medical appointments. That way your health care provider can make sure you are using it correctly.

  • Asthma control drugs

    Asthma control drugs - illustration

    Control drugs for asthma must be taken every day in order for them to work.

    Asthma control drugs

    illustration

  • Inhaler with spacer - adults

    Animation

  •  

    Inhaler with spacer - adults - Animation

    If you have a chronic lung disease, like asthma or COPD, a metered-dose inhaler is often your main type of therapy. An inhaler is a small, hand-held device that delivers medicine in the form of a spray that you breathe in. Using an inhaler may seem easy, but many people don't use them the right way. You need to know how to use your inhaler correctly for the medicine to get to your lungs and work effectively. A spacer device will help. The spacer connects to the inhaler mouthpiece, and the medicine goes into the spacer tube first. This allows you to breathe in the medicine more easily. Using a spacer wastes a lot less medicine than spraying the medicine directly into your mouth. It also makes it less important to get the exact timing for activating the inhaler while taking in a breath. These are instructions for using an inhaler with a spacer. First off, if you have not used the inhaler in a while, you may need to prime it. See the instructions that came with your inhaler for when and how to do this. Take the caps off the inhaler and spacer. Look inside each mouthpiece to make sure there is nothing in it. Shake the inhaler 10 to 15 times to mix the medicine with the propellant. Attach the inhaler mouthpiece to the open end of the spacer and hold it upright. Stand or sit upright. Breathe out all the way to empty your lungs. Place the spacer mouthpiece in your mouth so that it fits just past your teeth and above your tongue. Close your lips around the spacer so that you form a tight seal. Tilt your head back slightly. As you slowly begin to breathe in through your mouth, press down once on the top of the inhaler. Keep breathing in slowly, as deeply as you can. Your spacer may have a whistle that sounds if you breathe in too fast. Take the spacer out of your mouth. Hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds. This lets the medicine reach deep into your lungs. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. If you need a second puff, wait about 1 minute before you take your next puff. Put the caps back on the inhaler and spacer. After using your inhaler, gargle and rinse your mouth with water. Do not swallow the water. This helps reduce side effects from your medicine. To keep your inhaler and spacer operating correctly, you need to keep them clean. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for when and how often to clean your inhaler and spacer. Using your inhaler with a spacer the right way ensures you get the medicine you need. It's a good idea to bring your inhaler and spacer to your medical appointments. That way your health care provider can make sure you are using them correctly.

  • Inhaler with no spacer - adults

    Animation

  •  

    Inhaler with no spacer - adults - Animation

    If you have a chronic lung disease, like asthma or COPD, a metered-dose inhaler is often your main type of therapy. An inhaler is a small, hand-held device that delivers medicine in the form of a spray that you breathe in. Using an inhaler may seem easy, but many people don't use them the right way. You need to know how to use your inhaler correctly for the medicine to get to your lungs and work effectively. In general, using the inhaler without a spacer requires more coordination in order to ensure that medicine reaches your lungs. So, when possible, it's best to use a spacer. These are instructions for using an inhaler without a spacer. First off, if you have not used the inhaler in a while, you may need to prime it. See the instructions that came with your inhaler for when and how to do this. Take the cap off the mouthpiece, and look inside the mouthpiece to make sure there is nothing in it. Shake the inhaler 10 to 15 times to mix the medicine with the propellant. Hold the inhaler upright. Stand or sit upright. Breathe out all the way to empty your lungs. Place the mouthpiece in your mouth so that it fits just past your teeth and above your tongue. Close your lips around the inhaler so that you form a tight seal. Tilt your head back slightly. As you slowly begin to breathe in through your mouth, press down once on the top of the inhaler. Keep breathing in slowly, as deeply as you can. Take the inhaler out of your mouth. Hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds. This lets the medicine reach deep into your lungs. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. If you need a second puff, wait about 1 minute before you take your next puff. Put the cap back on the inhaler and make sure it is firmly closed. After using your inhaler, gargle and rinse your mouth with water. Do not swallow the water. This helps reduce side effects from your medicine. To keep your inhaler operating correctly, follow the manufacturer's instructions for when and how often to clean your inhaler. Using your inhaler the right way ensures you get the medicine you need. It's a good idea to bring your inhaler to your medical appointments. That way your health care provider can make sure you are using it correctly.

  • Asthma control drugs

    Asthma control drugs - illustration

    Control drugs for asthma must be taken every day in order for them to work.

    Asthma control drugs

    illustration

Self Care

 
 

Review Date: 2/18/2018

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. 02-25-19: Editorial update.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com

 
 
 

 

 

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.
Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.