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Today, there are many effective medicines to treat asthma. Most people with asthma need two kinds.

Quick-relief medicines – taken at the first sign of any asthma symptoms for immediate relief:

  • Short-acting inhaled beta2-agonists
  • Anticholinergics


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Your doctor also may recommend you use these medicines before exercise for treatment of asthma. Quick-relief medicines can stop asthma symptoms, but they do not control airway inflammation that causes the symptoms. If you find that you need your quick-relief medicine to treat asthma symptoms more than twice a week, or two or more nights a month, then your asthma is not well controlled. Be sure to tell you doctor.

Long-term control medicines – taken every day to prevent symptoms and attacks:

  • Inhaled corticosteroids
  • Antileukotrienes or leukotriene modifiers
  • Long-acting inhaled beta2-agonists (never taken alone but can be very useful when combined with an inhaled corticosteroid)
  • Immunomodulators

These medicines are taken every day even if you do not have symptoms. The most effective long-term control medicines reduce airway inflammation and help improve asthma control.

Your doctor will work with you to find the right medicine, or combination of medicines, to manage your asthma, and will adjust the type and amount based on your symptoms and control. The goal of asthma treatment is to have you feel your best with the least amount of medicine.