When it comes to understanding all of the new asthma treatments available, it’s natural to feel a little confused. The important thing to remember is that asthma is a “variable” disease. In other words, the symptoms can vary from person to person, and even the same person’s condition may fluctuate throughout the year. If you have asthma, your doctor will:
- Explain how you can keep your asthma under control by avoiding your personal triggers
- Prescribe medication that will help minimize your symptoms
- Work with you so you have a written Asthma Action Plan
- Recommend that you visit on a regular basis so that your symptoms can be monitored and your treatments adjusted if necessary
- Controllers, also called “preventers,” reduce inflammation in the airways. Controllers should be taken every day. You will know that the controller medication is working because you will, over time, have fewer and fewer symptoms. When your asthma is totally controlled and you have no symptoms, do not stop taking them. If you do, the airway inflammation may return.
- Relievers help alleviate, or relieve, symptoms quickly. If your symptom is cough, wheeze, chest tightness or shortness of breath, use a reliever medication to reduce symptoms. Relievers are only a short-term solution to your breathing problem as they treat the bronchoconstriction or tightening of the airway but they do not treat the underlying airway inflammation. Monitor how often you use your reliever as increased use over time is telling you that your asthma is worsening. Tell your doctor or refer to your Asthma Action Plan if you start using your reliever medication more.