Asthma - control drugs
Inhaled corticosteroids; Long-acting beta-agonists; Leukotriene modifiers; Cromolyn
Control drugs for asthma are drugs you take to control your symptoms of asthma. You must take them every day for them to work. You and your doctor can make a plan for the control drugs that work for you. This plan will include when you should take them and how much you should take.
You may need to take these drugs for at least a month before you start to feel better.
Take them even when you feel okay. Take enough with you when you travel. Plan ahead. Make sure you do not run out.
Inhaled corticosteroids help keep your airways from swelling up. This helps keep your asthma symptoms away.
These inhaled corticosteroids are used with a metered dose inhaler (MDI) and spacer:
- Flunisolide (Aerobid)
- Budesonide (Pulmicort)
- Mometasone (Asmanex)
- Triamcinolone (Azmacort)
- Fluticasone (Flovent)
- Beclomethasone (Qvar)
You should use an inhaled steroid drug every day, even if you do not have symptoms.
After you use it, rinse your mouth with water, gargle, and spit out.
If your child cannot use an inhaler, your doctor will give you Pulmicort Respules. This drug is used with a nebulizer. This machine can turn liquid medicine into a spray, so your child can breathe the medicine in.
See also: How to use a nebulizer
Long-acting Beta-agonist Inhalers
Long-acting beta-agonist inhaler drugs are another kind of medicine that helps keep your asthma symptoms away. These drugs relax the muscles of your airways.
These drugs are generally used only when an inhaled steroid drug is also being used and you still have symptoms. Do not take long-acting beta-agonist inhaler drugs alone.
- Salmeterol (Serevent): use 2 times a day.
- Formoterol (Foradil): use 1 time a day.
Use a long-acting beta-agonist inhaler drug every day, even if you do not have symptoms.
Your doctor may ask you to take both a steroid drug and a long-acting beta-agonist drug.
It may be easier to use an inhaler that has both drugs in them. Three of these are:
- Advair HFA
- Advair Diskus
These medicines are used to prevent asthma symptoms. They come in tablet or pill form.
Leukotriene modifiers include:
- Montelukast (Singulair)
- Zafirlukast (Accolate)
- Zileuton (Zyflo)
Cromolyn is a medicine that may prevent asthma symptoms. It can be used in a nebulizer, so it may be easy for young children to take. It is also available as an aerosol.
Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Rockville, MD. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2007. NIH publications 08-4051.
Lemanske RF Jr, Mauger DT, Sorkness CA, Jackson DJ, Boehmer SJ, Martinez FD, et al. Step-up therapy for children with uncontrolled asthma receiving inhaled corticosteroids. N Engl J Med. 2010 Mar 18;362(11):975-85.
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc