Asthma Control Medications

Asthma Control Medications

Usually, these medications are taken every day, even if you feel good. They help to prevent  the symptoms of asthma and asthma attacks. However, they DO NOT RELY quickly in an asthma attack.

Types of control drugs:
1. Inhaled steroids (corticosteroids):

  • Control drugs are inhalers used every day that control inflammation in the respiratory tract.
  • This type of medication is usually the most effective for the control of chronic asthma.
  • Examples: Flovent, Pulmicort, Qvar, Alvesco

Some possible side effects of inhaled steroids (corticosteroids):

  • Hoarseness and sore throat
  • Oral candidiasis – appearance of white granulations on your tongue. You can prevent oral thrush by:

1. Rinse your mouth, gargling and spitting water after using your inhaler
2.Use a restraining chamber with your metered dose inhaler (if that’s what you use).

Your doctor will adjust your dose so that you get the best asthma control using the lowest dose. For a complete list of side effects, consult your doctor or pharmacist. In most cases, inhaled corticosteroids have few side effects with the dose required to control asthma.

2. Long-acting bronchodilators :

  • These inhalers open your lungs by relaxing the very small layers of muscles that surround the airways.
  • Since they may take longer to function than relief medications, they should not be used to relieve symptoms quickly, such as during an asthma attack.
  • They are similar to blue inhalers, but they last longer – about 12 hours.
  • Examples: Serevent, Oxeze.

Some possible side effects of long-acting bronchodilators :

  • Faster heart rate
  • anxiety
  • Hand trembling

3. Leukotriene receptor antagonists :

  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists are tablets to be taken daily that help control inflammation in the respiratory tract.
  • For people with moderate asthma, doctors may prescribe only an antagonist of leukotriene receptors. However, they are generally not as effective as low dose inhaled corticosteroids.
  • Doctors may also prescribe leukotriene receptor antagonists to patients who are already taking inhaled corticosteroids to help further reduce symptoms or to help reduce the dose of corticosteroids.
  • Examples: Singulair, Accolate.

Some possible side effects of leukotriene receptor antagonists:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • stomach pains
  • stomach ache

For a complete list of side effects, consult your doctor or pharmacist. In general, the side effects of leukotriene receptor antagonists are very rare.

4. Combination of drugs for asthma

These are two drugs combined in an inhaler: an inhaled steroid and a long-acting bronchodilator.
They are used when the unique inhaled steroids do not completely control your symptoms.
Examples: Advair (Flovent + Serevent), Symbicort (Pulmicort + Oxeze)

5. Anti-IgE

  • This new drug, called Xolair (drug name: omalizumab) is intended for asthmatics who have severe allergies and corresponding high levels of “IgE” in the blood (IgE is an antibody produced by the body that causes allergic reactions) .
  • Xolair is a set of injections that synchronize the effects of IgE antibodies.
  • It may be useful for patients taking high doses of inhaled corticosteroids but still suffering from regular symptoms.


Usually, these medications are only taken as needed for quick relief or an asthma attack. They help to open your lungs by relaxing the muscles that surround the airways.

Relief medications:

  • Sometimes referred to as “relief” drugs or “quick relief” medicines, because they start working quickly (usually within minutes)
  • This is the inhaler you use when you have an asthma attack.
  • They are also used for less severe symptoms, or before doing physical exercises.
  • These medications are not useful for long-term asthma control because they do not control inflammation in your lungs.
  • If you need this medicine more than three times a week, consult your doctor.
  • Examples: Ventolin, Salbutamol, Bricanyl, Airomir.

Some possible side effects of relief medications:

  • tremor
  • nervousness
  • Redness of face and neck
  • Faster heart rate


It is a plastic device that is used with pressure inhalers (the kind that vaporizes the drug) to promote drug access to your lungs.
It facilitates the coordination of the inhalation drug inhaler.
You get more medicine in your lungs and less in your mouth and throat.


Sometimes, some people develop severe airway inflammation – this can happen, because they have a lung infection or for some other specific reason. In cases of severe inflammation of the respiratory tract, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroid tablets. In fact, corticosteroid tablets do the same thing as inhaled corticosteroids, but they are more potent. Doctors often prescribe these tablets for a short time to control inflammation.

Examples of corticosteroids tablet: Prednisone, Prednisolone (Pediapred MD ) and Dexamethasone (Decadron ® )

What corticosteroid tablets do: Corticosteroid tablets reduce inflammation, redness and mucus in the airways.

Side Effects of Corticosteroid Tablets: For a complete list of side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

During short-term use (prescriptions that last 3 to 7 days), the side effects of corticosteroid tablets may include:

  • More pronounced appetite
  • mood swings
  • Water retention
  • Hyperactivity in children

During long-term use (prescriptions that last several weeks or months), the side effects of corticosteroid tablets may include:

More pronounced appetite

  • weight gain
  • Irritation of the stomach
  • Bone loss
  • Addiction: your body may show signs of withdrawal, if you spontaneously stop using Prednisone. Your doctor may ask you to gradually reduce your dose.


Your doctor, pharmacist, or accredited specialist in the field of asthma can:

  • Explain how each asthma medication works
  • Discuss all your concerns about potential side effects
  • Show you how to use your medication inhalation device (your metered dose inhaler, restraining chamber, Diskus, Turbuhaler, etc.)

We are here to help you :

Ontarians can contact our accredited asthma specialists by calling our Asthma Helpline Helpline at no cost.

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