The most-prescribed quick-relief medicines are quick-acting bronchodilators (usually given through an inhaler or a nebulizer), which loosen the tightened muscles around inflamed airways. The most common of these, beta2-agonists, are related to adrenaline and usually work within minutes to provide temporary relief of symptoms.
If a bronchodilator alone doesn't resolve a severe flare-up, other medications may be given by mouth or injection to help treat it.
If your child has been prescribed rescue medication, it's important to keep it on hand. That means at home, at the mall, at sports practice, and even on vacation.
Quick-relief medications, although an important part of asthma treatment, can be overused. Talk with your doctor about how often your child uses them. If it's too often, the doctor also might prescribe a long-term control medicine to help prevent asthma flare-ups from happening.
Because airways can be inflamed even in between flare-ups, long-term control medicines might be needed to prevent unexpected asthma flare-ups. These slower-acting medicines can take days to weeks to start working, but when they do, they prevent airway inflammation and keep the lungs from making too much mucus.
There are a variety of long-term control medicines, but inhaled corticosteroids are the most common. They're usually given through an inhaler or nebulizer. Despite their name, corticosteroids are not the same as performance-enhancing steroids used by athletes. They're a safe and proven form of asthma treatment.
In fact, inhaled corticosteroids are the preferred long-term treatment for kids who have asthma symptoms often. Research shows that they improve asthma control and their risk of causing long-term negative effects is minimal. (But corticosteroids that are swallowed in liquid or pill form can cause side effects if used daily over a long period of time.)
Long-acting bronchodilators also can be used as control medicines. These relax the muscles of the airways for up to 12 hours, but can't be used for quick relief of symptoms because they don't start to work immediately.
Even if your child takes long-term control medicine regularly, quick-relief medicine will still be needed to handle flare-ups when they happen.
Your doctor will decide which type of medicine your child needs based on the severity of asthma symptoms and how often they happen. Be sure to report any concerns or changes in the symptoms to help your doctor find the best treatment. Both the type and dosage of medicine needed are likely to change over time.
You play an important part in your child's asthma treatment. For example, you can track how well the medicine is working by using a peak flow meter. You also can record information in an asthma diary and ask your doctor to create an asthma action plan, if you don't already have one.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2015
|American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.|
|American Lung Association The mission of this group is to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Contact the group at: American Lung Association|
61 Broadway, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10006
|Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics (AAN-MA) Through education, advocacy, community outreach, and research, AAN-MA hopes to eliminate suffering and fatalities due to asthma and allergies. AAN-MA offers news, drug recall information, tips, and more for treating allergies and asthma. Call: (800) 878-4403|
|AIRNow A cross-agency U.S. government website, AIRNow provides useful air quality information, including daily Air Quality Index forecasts and details on conditions in more than 300 U.S. cities.|
|Asthma Diary Use this weekly diary to record your child's asthma symptoms, peak flows, the amount of medicine taken.|
|Asthma Action Plan When things are confusing, a plan really helps. Check out this asthma action plan, which you can print out and use to manage breathing trouble.|
|Asthma Millions of teens in the United States have asthma, a lung condition that causes difficulty breathing. Here are the basics on symptoms, triggers, and treatments.|
|Broncodilatador Los broncodilatadores son medicamentos que suelen utilizar las personas asmáticas. Relajan los músculos que rodean las vías aéreas (los conductos que transportan el aire hacia el interior y el exterior de los pulmones) y permiten que éstas se ensanchen.|
|Asthma Action Plan Use this printable sheet to help reduce or prevent flare-ups and emergency department visits through day-to-day management of your child's asthma.|
|Asthma Diary Use this weekly diary to keep a record of your asthma symptoms, peak flows, and the amount of medicine taken.|
|Dealing With Asthma Triggers Triggers - substances, weather conditions, or activities - can lead to flare-ups in kids with asthma. By knowing and avoiding triggers, you'll help minimize your child's asthma symptoms.|
|What's an Asthma Action Plan? An asthma action plan (also called a management plan) is a written plan that you develop with your child's doctor to help control your child's asthma.|
|What's the Difference Between a Nebulizer and an Inhaler? Inhalers and nebulizers are two different devices used to get rescue or controller asthma medications directly into the lungs. Find out how they work.|
|Handling an Asthma Flare-Up How can you prepare for an asthma flare-up? Find out in this article for kids.|
|How Do Asthma Medicines Work? Kids who have asthma need to take medicine. But what kind of medicine do they take and what does it do? Let's find out.|
|What's an Asthma Action Plan? If you have asthma, you'll want to have an asthma action plan. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|What's an Asthma Flare-Up? A kid who has asthma might have an asthma attack (or flare-up). Find out more in this article for kids.|
|What's the Difference Between a Nebulizer and an Inhaler? People use inhalers and nebulizers to get asthma medicine into their lungs. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Can Kids and Teens With Asthma Play Sports? You might remember a time when kids who had asthma were discouraged from playing sports and told to take it easy. That's no longer the case.|
|Asthma Center Asthma means breathing problems. Find out what's going on in the lungs and how to stay healthy, if you have it.|
|Asthma Center Visit our Asthma Center for information and advice on managing and living with asthma.|
|How Can I Deal With My Asthma? Asthma is more common these days than it used to be. The good news is it's also a lot easier to manage and control.|
|How Do Asthma Medicines Work? Two different types of medicines are used to treat asthma: quick-relief medicines and long-term control medicines. Read about how they work - and why people might need to take them.|
|What's the Difference Between a Nebulizer and an Inhaler? Inhalers and nebulizers are two different devices used to get rescue or controller medications directly into the lungs. Find out how they work by reading this article.|
|Definition: Long-Term Control Medicine Many people with asthma need to take medication every day to control their asthma.|
|Definition: Quick-Relief Medicine Quick-relief medicines are asthma medicines that work fast to stop or prevent asthma symptoms.|
|Managing Asthma Asthma control can take a little time and energy to master, but it's worth the effort. Learn more about ways to manage your child's asthma.|
|What's a Peak Flow Meter? An inexpensive, portable device called a peak flow meter measures lung function in kids with asthma, which can help them manage the condition and avoid major flare-ups.|
|Asthma Basics With the right asthma management plan, families can learn to control symptoms and asthma flare-ups more independently, allowing kids to do just about anything they want.|
|Creating an Asthma-Safe Home If your child has asthma, you can create the best home environment possible by knowing about asthma triggers and eliminating or minimizing exposure to them.|
|Asthma Center Asthma keeps more kids home from school than any other chronic illness. Learn how to help your child manage the condition, stay healthy, and stay in school.|
|Asthma Asthma can cause a person's airways to get swollen and irritated, making it hard to breathe. Find out more in this article for kids.|
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