Asthma medicines fall into two categories:
- reliever medicines, taken during flare-ups (exacerbations) or for quick relief of symptoms, and
- maintenance medicines (preventers), taken every day to help make breathing easier over the long term. A preventer should be used even if a person isn’t experiencing any asthma symptoms.
A person with asthma will be prescribed reliever medicine whether their symptoms are mild, moderate or severe.
People who experience moderate or severe asthma symptoms are also likely to be prescribed a preventer, alongside their reliever medication. This is for everyday use. Some people with mild asthma may also need to use a preventer.
For adults with asthma, some inhalers can contain both a reliever and preventer. This means that you can use the same inhaler during a flare-up to help with symptoms, and also daily to reduce airway inflammation even if you are not experiencing symptoms.
People with asthma will use inhalers to take both relievers and preventers. If their asthma symptoms persist, a doctor may recommend taking tablets as well.
Inhalers are devices that let a person breathe in medication, so that the medicine is delivered directly into their lungs. There are many different types of inhalers for asthma medicine. Not all inhalers are used the same way.
A doctor, nurse or pharmacist can teach you or your child how and when to use an inhaler.
Find out more about
Watch the National Asthma Council of Australia's videos about using inhalers