Quick-Relief Medications Make an Appointment Ask a Question Search Conditions Quick-relief medications are used to treat asthma, other lung disease symptoms or an acute episode (such as an asthma attack or COPD exacerbation). Many of these medications are inhaled and start to work within a few minutes. Learn more about the following quick-relief asthma and other lung disease medications: Anticholinergics Anticholinergics are quick-relief asthma and lung disease medications, but slower than short-acting beta-agonists. Short-Acting Beta-Agonists Short-acting beta-agonists work quickly to relieve asthma and other lung disease symptoms. Beta-agonists relax the smooth muscles around the airways. Steroid Pills and Syrups (Oral Steroids) Steroid pills and syrups are often used to treat severe asthma or other lung disease episodes. They reduce swelling and help other asthma medicines work better. Inhaled Steroids An inhaled steroid is typically prescribed as a long-term control medicine. An inhaled steroid will not provide quick relief for acute attacks. This information has been approved by Ronina Covar, MD and Ann Mullen, RN, MSN, CNS, AE-C (December, 2012).