There are two primary kinds of medicine to treat asthma, fast-acting "rescue" medication and long-acting "controller" medication.
Fast-acting or "rescue" medication
- These fast-acting inhalers act quickly and wear off quickly.
- This type of medication, called Albuterol, has several brand names such as Ventolin, ProAir, Proventil and Xopenex.
- They work to relax the muscles around airways that have been narrowed by tightened airway muscles (bronchospasm).
- They can be used as needed for wheeze and cough and should always be used with a spacer.
- Asthma inhalers (sometimes called pumps or puffers) work as well as nebulizers if you use a spacer.
Long-acting or "controller" medication
- These long-acting inhalers act more slowly, but last longer.
- This type of medication, called inhaled corticosteroids, has several brand names such as QVAR, Flovent, Advair, Dulera and Symbicort.
- They work to reduce the swelling, irritation and mucus inside the airway so that the lungs can easily move air in and out.
- They must be used daily, and most are used with a spacer.