Asthma in Teens and Adults - Medications
Medicine doesn't cure
asthma. But it is an important part of managing it. Medicines for asthma treatment are used to:
- Prevent and control airway
inflammation so you have fewer asthma symptoms.
- Decrease how often you have
asthma attacks, how long they last, and how severe they are.
- Treat the attacks as they
Asthma medicines are divided into two groups: those for
prevention and long-term control of
inflammation and those that provide quick relief for
- Long-term (controller) medicines are used daily for
- Quick-relief medicines are used as needed and provide rapid relief of
symptoms during asthma attacks.
How to take asthma medicine
Most medicines for asthma are
inhaled. Inhaled medicines are used because a specific dose can
be given directly to the airways .
Delivery systems include metered-dose and dry powder
nebulizers. A metered-dose inhaler (MDI) is used most
Doctors recommend using a
spacer with an MDI to better deliver the medicine to the lungs. For many people, a spacer makes an MDI
easier to use.
- Asthma: Using a Metered-Dose Inhaler
- Asthma: Using a Dry Powder Inhaler
The most important asthma
- Inhaled corticosteroids. These are the
preferred controller medicines for long-term treatment of asthma. They reduce inflammation
of your airways. You take them every day to keep asthma under control and to
prevent sudden and severe symptoms (asthma attacks). They include budesonide, fluticasone, mometasone, and triamcinolone.
- Oral or injected corticosteroids (systemic
corticosteroids). They get your asthma under control before you start taking daily
medicine. You may also need these medicines to treat asthma attacks. Oral
corticosteroids are used much more than injected corticosteroids. They include methylprednisolone and prednisone.
- Short-acting beta2-agonists for asthma attacks. They
relax the airways, allowing you to breathe easier. These quick-relief medicines include
albuterol and pirbuterol.
There are other long-term medicines for daily treatment. They
Other medicines may be given in some cases.
- Anticholinergics (such as ipratropium) are usually
used for severe asthma attacks.
- Omalizumab may be used if asthma doesn't improve with
treatment. An asthma specialist typically prescribes this medicine.
A quick-relief medicine, racepinephrine (Asthmanefrin), is available without a prescription. This medicine isn't used with an inhaler. It comes with an atomizer that delivers the medicine as a mist.
The right medicine for you
Medicine treatment for asthma depends on your age and type of asthma, and how well the treatment is controlling your asthma
- The least amount of medicine that controls the asthma
symptoms is used.
- The amount of medicine and number of medicines
are increased in steps. So if asthma isn't controlled at a low dose of one
controller medicine, the dose may be increased. Or another medicine may be
- If the asthma has been under control for several months at a
certain dose of medicine, the dose may be reduced. This can help find the least
amount of medicine that will control the asthma.
medicine is used to treat asthma attacks. But if you need to use
quick-relief medicine a lot, the amount and number of controller medicines may
Your doctor will work with you to help find the number and
dose of medicines that work best.