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Treatment Options: Rescue and Controller Medications

Medicine is important for keeping asthma under control. Some medicines are taken only when needed to help relieve asthma symptoms (quick-relief/rescue medication). Other medicines are taken every day and have been shown to help control asthma (controller medications). It is important to know the names of your medicines and how and when to use them. In order to help keep your asthma under control, you should always take your asthma medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

There are two types of medicine used to treat asthma.

Rescue/quick-relief medications
Rescue medications (short-acting beta-agonists), like XOPENEX HFA® (levalbuterol tartrate) Inhalation Aerosol, when taken as prescribed may help ease symptoms by relaxing the muscles that have tightened around the airways. Remember to keep your quick-relief inhaler with you at all times -- even if you feel okay.

Rescue/fast-relief medicines:

  • Are inhaled when needed.
  • May open up the airways after they are used.
  • Can help to treat sudden symptoms.

Controller medications
Controller medications are taken every day to help prevent asthma symptoms. Examples include inhaled corticosteroids.

Controller medicines:

  • Are inhaled or taken in pill form.
  • Are usually taken every day and should be taken even if there are no symptoms.
  • Help keep asthma under control so you are less likely to have symptoms.

Controller medicines should not be used as rescue, or fast-relief, therapy.

Ask your healthcare provider which treatment option may be right for you.

1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
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You and Your Healthcare Provider

Your healthcare team is an essential part of the treatment plan for you or your child.



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