Asthma Medicines

There are two main types of medicines for treating asthma. They are called Rescue (Quick-Relief) Medicines and Controller Medicines.

Rescue Medicines

Everyone with asthma needs a rescue inhaler (rescue medicine).
A rescue inhaler:

  • Works very quickly to make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Helps to open your airways.
  • Should be used as directed by your doctor.

Controller Medicines

Most people with asthma also need one or more controller medicines. Some controller medicines help reduce the swelling inside the airways. Other controller medicines help relax the muscles that squeeze the airways.
Controller medicines:

  • May reduce the number of flare-ups and help you stay well.
  • Are taken each day, as directed by your doctor.


  • Use your rescue inhaler as directed by your doctor.
  • Keep your rescue inhaler with you at all times.
  • Take your controller medicine every day as directed by your doctor, even when you feel fine.
  • Sit down with your doctor to develop an Asthma Action Plan. It will tell you when and how to take each medicine.