How is asthma treated?

There are other types of medicine that can be added to your treatment regime if needed, such as steroid tablets, long-acting relievers and combination inhalers. For information about other medicines speak to your doctor or asthma nurse.  If you would like more information or advice you can also call the Asthma Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 to speak to our team of asthma nurse specialists, or email us your query to nurse@asthmasociety.ie

There are some excellent treatments available to help you control your asthma. The most effective way of taking most asthma treatments is to inhale the medicine so it gets straight into your lungs. There are many different inhalers available and it is important that you use an inhaler that you are comfortable with and can use properly. Your doctor or asthma nurse will advise you on the most appropriate inhaler device for you and should show you how to use it correctly. They will also advise you on an appropriate space device if needed.

There are 2 main types of asthma medicine, these are called reliever inhalers and controller inhalers. They are both equally important but do very different things.

  • Reliever inhalers (usually blue) are taken as soon as symptoms appear (wheezing, cough or breathlessness). They work quickly by relaxing the muscles surrounding the narrowed airways and making it easier to breathe. Reliever inhalers are essential in treating asthma attacks. If you need to use your reliever inhaler more than twice a week, you should go back to your doctor or nurse and have your asthma reviewed so that you can keep it under control. If you continue to need a lot of reliever medicine over a long time there is a risk that it will become less effective and your asthma may worsen.

  • Controller inhalers (usually brown, red or orange) work by controlling the swelling and inflammation in the airways. This makes the airways less sensitive and reduces the risk of severe attacks. The effect of controller inhalers builds up over a period of time so they need to be taken every day, usually in the morning and evening. It is extremely important to take your controller medication even when you’re feeling well. Controllers contain corticosteroids which have limited side effects and are identical to those produced by the body. The steroids contained in preventer inhalers are not the same as the anabolic steroids used by athletes to improve performance. It is recommended to take your controller medication with a spacer device to ensure you’re getting as effective a dose as possible. You should rinse your mouth after using your controller in order to reduce the possibility of hoarseness or oral thrush.

There are other types of medicine that can be added into your treatment regime; these include steroid tablets, long acting relievers and combination inhalers. For information about other medicine speak to your doctor or asthma nurse. If you would like more information or advice you can also call the Asthma Adviceline on 1850 44 54 64 to speak to our team of asthma nurse specialists.

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