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This information was reviewed and approved by Flavia Cecilia Lega Hoyte, MD (2/6/2023).

Asthma treatment has advanced significantly over the past few years. Research has allowed doctors to gain a better understanding of the role of inflammation in the airways and the cellular mechanisms involved. This has resulted in new approaches to asthma treatment, along with new asthma medications.

Depending on the severity of your asthma, medications can be taken on an as-needed basis or regularly to prevent or decrease breathing difficulty. Most people with asthma benefit from preventive treatment that reduces inflammation in the airways or opens the airways on a more consistent basis, thereby reducing chronic obstruction. As the medical community learns more about the different subtypes of asthma and the various pathways of inflammation involved in these different subtypes, your healthcare provider is better able to identify your particular asthma subtype and target treatment towards that specific subtype and the specific pathways thought to be in involved in your particular case. Preventative treatment gives ongoing protection, even if there are no apparent symptoms. For many people, a combination of medications is prescribed.

Many of the current asthma medications available are inhaled. When you use the correct technique, the medication is deposited directly into the airways. This generally produces fewer side effects than tablets or syrups. However, for some people, oral administration (tablets or syrup) may also be prescribed.

The important thing to remember is that there is no one “best” drug regimen for everyone. The medication program must be individualized to your needs. Monitoring your asthma and working with your doctor on an ongoing basis are the best ways to ensure that your asthma treatment is appropriate for you.

WATCH: Asthma Inhalers

Asthma medications are usually separated into specific categories, as follows:

Quick-Relief Medications

Quick-relief asthma medications are used to treat asthma symptoms or an asthma attack. They are generally not used on a daily basis, unless your asthma is worsening. If this is the case, speak with your physician.

Long-Term Control Medications

Long-term control asthma medications are used daily to maintain control of symptoms. These asthma medications are in different categories and can be used alone or in combination with others. They are to be taken every day, even when you are doing well, to prevent episodes.

Devices for Inhaled Medications

There are a number of asthma inhalers that help deliver lung medications directly to the airways. These include metered-dose inhalers, dry powder inhalers and nebulizers. 


Alternative Therapies

Along with asthma medications, alternative therapies may assist in managing asthma on a daily basis. Discuss these with your physician.

Managing Medications

Managing your asthma medications is also an important task. You do not want to run out of medication or have too much lying around. Learning how to manage your medications will prevent both of these scenarios. Read the package insert and any corresponding paperwork from your pharmacy to learn tips that will help you manage your asthma medication supply.

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