Community Pediatric Asthma Service

lungs swollen

Controller/Reliever Medicine

Controller /preventer medicine must be used regularly to help heal and prevent swelling in the airways. These medicines are often taken even when you have no symptoms, and help keep your asthma under control. There are a number of different types of controller/preventer medications (see below).

Inhaled corticosteroids are the most commonly used controller/preventer medicines to keep asthma under good control. These are not the same type of steroids that some athletes use to build muscle and they are not addictive. Inhaled corticosteroids prevent swelling and decrease mucus or phlegm in the airways. Corticosteroids have been used for many years to treat asthma and are very safe.

When regular use of preventer medication does not control your asthma, your doctor may add a second type of preventer/controller medicine to enhance the effect of the first.

               Device          Drug Name
 Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI)                         Flovent, Qvar, Alvesco                    
 Turbuhaler  Pulmicort
 Diskus  Flovent
Twisthaler Asmanex

Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists (LTRAs) block the release of Leukotrienes, which cause swelling in the airways of the lungs. These chewable pills can be taken in addition to an inhaled corticosteroid. Some people with very mild asthma may be able to take only the pill to control their asthma symptoms, however, Canadian Asthma Guidelines suggest that almost all patients should be started on inhaled corticosteroids first. 

            Device                             Drug Name
             Tablet    Singulair: 4, 5 and 10 mg tablets

Long Acting Beta Agonists (LABAs) relax the muscles surrounding the airways in the lungs for about 12 hours and may be used when the regular use of an inhaled corticosteroid alone does not control your asthma. Your doctor may add a LABA to enhance the effectiveness of the corticosteroid. LABAs always should be used in addition to an inhaled corticosteroid medicine and should be taken regularly, like inhaled corticosteroids. 

LABAs do not replace reliever medication in an emergency.

               Device               Drug Name
 Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI)               Not available
 Turbuhaler               Oxeze
 Diskus               Serevent

Combination Medicines are convenient if your child needs to take both an inhaled corticosteroid and an LABA medicine, because they may be taken at the same time, in a single device. Current combination medications include Advair (Flovent + Serevent) and Symbicort (Pulmicort + Oxeze), Zenhale (Mometasone + Formoterol).  

                   Device           Drug Name
 Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI)                 Advair, Zenhale        
 Turbuhaler        Symbicort
 Diskus        Advair