Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Treat Asthma Medications

Generally there are two types of asthma medications:-

1) rescue and

2) controller medicines.

Most asthmatics need both the medications. Many people with asthma are only treated with a rescue asthma inhaler, which is a common mistake to make. Check out whether your asthma is controlled or not and if you need additional therapy such as a controller medicine.

Rescue asthma medicines are those medicines that are taken when needed. This means that these medicines should be carried with the person with asthma at all times, since an asthma attack can never be predicted. Rescue medicines help to relax the muscle around the airways for at least a few hours, but do not help the inflammation and swelling of the airways. Mostly using a rescue medicine is a sign that asthma is not under controlled.

Controller asthma medicines are those medicines that are taken daily and sometimes few times a day regardless of asthma symptoms. These medicines are taken all of the time in order to control the inflammation and swelling of the airways. This leads to less irritation and constriction of the muscles around the airways and therefore less asthma symptoms. Generally these medicines takes a few days to a few weeks in order to start working, but then a person with asthma will discover that less and less rescue medicine is needed.

Some Asthma Rescue and Controller Medicines:-

  1. Rescue medicines :-
  2. ProAir – [albuterol]
  3. Proventil -[ albuterol]
  4. Ventolin – [albuterol]
  5. Maxair – [pirbuterol]
  6. Alupent – [metaproterenol]

Controller medicines :- 

  1. Inhaled steroids [Pulmicort (budesonide), Flovent (fluticasone), Advair (fluticasone/salmeterol combination), Azmacort (triamcinolone), QVAR (beclomethasone) and Asmanex (mometasone)]
  2. Long-acting beta-agonists [Foradil (formoterol), Serevent(salmeterol)]
  3. Leukotriene blockers (Singulair (montelukast), Accolate (zafirlukast), Zyflo (zileuton)}.
  4. Theophylline (Theo Dur, Theo-24, Uniphyl, generics)
  5. Mast cell stabilizers [Tilade (nedocromil), Intal (cromolyn)]
  6. Xolair (omalizumab) 

Is your Asthma Inhaler empty ?

Calculate how long a asthma controller medicine inhaler will last – for exp, Flovent inhalers contain about 120 puffs. If your prescription is 2 puffs to be inhaled twice a day, then you will use 4 puffs a day. Therefore,120 divided by 4 is equal to 30. So the canister will last for 30 days.

Whereas a asthma rescue inhaler, such as Albuterol – mostly these canisters have between 100 and 200 puffs. Since these medicines are only used as and when needed, how long a canister lasts depends on how much or how many times a person uses the medicine. Once the canister seems to be less than half-full by shaking and checking, it is probably time for a new one.

Always remember that an inhaler will continue to spray propellant long after the medicine has even run out but not spray concurrently and adequately. Always make sure that your asthma medicines are in good spare supplies and not past the expiration date.

DOs and DON’Ts of Asthma:-


  1. Use your medicines as prescribed.
  2. Visit your doctor twice a year, more often if needed.
  3. Get a flu shot every year.
  4. Visit your doctor early when you have cold or flu symptoms.


Don’t use tobacco products(if you are a user) which can worsen asthma symptoms 
Don’t let heartburn symptoms go untreated, which can also worsen asthma. 
Don’t use asthma medicines without prescriptions. 
Don’t use your rescue medicine more than twice a week without consulting your doctor. 


This above information provided by this website is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your Doctor or health care provider for advice about your specific Asthma medical condition.