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Questions About Asthma Medicine

When you have questions about using your asthma medicines or need to help your child with his or her medicines, getting the right answers can make a big difference in controlling symptoms. Below are answers to some common questions about asthma medicines. Talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about these medicines.

Q. What are some signs that my medicine schedule may need to be adjusted?

A. You are using your quick-relief medicine for asthma symptoms more than twice a week. Or you are using them more often than your healthcare provider advised. Contact your healthcare provider.

Q. What are some signs that my asthma may be out of control?

A. Your symptoms cause you to miss work or school. Or they keep you awake at night. Your provider may need to adjust your medicines, or prescribe different medicines.

Q. Is it OK to use my quick-relief bronchodilator more often than prescribed?

A. No. Using this more often than prescribed for worsening symptoms can delay correct treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider if this is happening.

Q. What’s the difference between long-term control medicine and quick-relief medicine?

A. Long-term control medicine is taken every day to treat ongoing inflammation. This type of medicine treats the cause of asthma for better long-term control of symptoms. Quick-relief medicine (also known as rescue or reliever medicine) is taken at the first sign of asthma symptoms to give you relief right away.

Q. Is it OK to stop my long-term control medicine if I don’t have symptoms?

A. No. The fact that you don’t have symptoms is a sign that your treatment is working the way it should. If you stop taking the medicine, your asthma is likely to get worse again.

Q. How can I tell if my child’s quick-relief medicine is working?

A. Your child should begin breathing easier and feeling better within 5 to 10 minutes. A peak-flow meter can be helpful. This is a device that measures how fast your child can blow out air after breathing in as deeply as possible. If possible, check your child’s peak flow before giving the medicine. Then check again 20 to 30 minutes later. The peak flow should improve by the second reading. If your child’s symptoms don’t improve as expected, get medical help right away.

Q. What can I do if my child is having trouble using an inhaler?

A. An inhaler releases medicine in a mist, which is breathed into the lungs. This type of inhaler works well. But it can be tricky to use correctly. Ask your healthcare provider about using a mask and a spacer. These devices attach to the inhaler to make it easier to use. In some cases, you child can use a nebulizer device. 

Q. Can I take an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine instead of my prescription?

A. No. Never take OTC medicine in place of prescription medicines. You might be able to use some OTC decongestants and antihistamines in addition to your prescribed medicine. But always check with your healthcare provider first. Some OTC products can be dangerous for people with asthma.

Online Medical Reviewer: Alan J Blaivas DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2018
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