Pediatric Asthma: Treatment

Reviewed by Ronina A. Covar, MD
Asthma management 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 management and new medications.

Depending on the severity of your child’s asthma, medications can be taken on an as-needed basis or regularly to prevent or decrease breathing difficulty. Most children with asthma benefit from preventive treatment, because this reduces the inflammation in the airways and the possibility of chronic obstruction. This gives ongoing protection, even if there are no apparent symptoms. For many children, a combination of medications is prescribed.

Many of the current medications available are inhaled. When your child uses the correct technique, medication is deposited directly into the airways. This generally produces fewer side effects than tablets or syrups. However, with some children, 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 child’s needs. Monitoring your child’s asthma and working with your child’s doctor on an ongoing basis are the best way to ensure that the medication program is appropriate for your child.


Most of the asthma medications fall into two major groups:

  1. Long-term control medications
  2. Quick-relief medications


Long-Term Control Medications

Long-term control medications are used daily to maintain control of asthma and prevent asthma symptoms. Learn more.


Quick-Relief Medications

Quick-relief medications are used to treat asthma symptoms or an asthma episode. Learn more.


Inhaled Medications

For many years, inhaled medications have been an important part of asthma treatment. Inhaled methods deliver medication directly to the airways, which is useful for lung diseases. Learn more.

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