Asthma medication plays a key role in how well you control your condition. There are two main types of treatment, each geared toward a specific goal.
Controller medications are the most important because they prevent asthma attacks. When you use these drugs, your airways are less inflamed and less likely to react to triggers.
Quick-relief medications -- also called rescue medications -- relax the muscles around your airway. If you have to use a rescue medication more than twice a week, your asthma isn’t well-controlled. But people who have exercise-induced asthma may use a quick-acting med called a beta-agonist before a workout.
The right medication should allow you to live an active and normal life. If your asthma symptoms aren’t controlled, ask your doctor to help you find a different treatment that works better.
To diagnose asthma, your doctor will review your asthma symptoms, your medical and family history, and may perform lung function tests (also called pulmonary function tests). Your doctor will be interested in any breathing problems you might have had, as well as a family history of asthma or other lung conditions, allergies, or a skin disease called eczema. It is important that you describe your symptoms of asthma in detail (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness), including when...
Anticholinergics. These are bronchodilators that can be paired with, or used instead of, short-acting beta-agonists.
Systemic corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that get symptoms under control quickly.
Inhalers, Nebulizers, and Pills as Asthma Medicine
There are a few ways to take asthma medications. Some are inhaled, using a metered dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler, or a nebulizer (which changes medication from a liquid to a mist). Others are taken by mouth, either in pill or liquid form. They can also be given by injection.
Some asthma drugs can be taken together. And some inhalers mix two different medications to get the drugs to your airways quicker.