Asthma Medications

Asthma medicines don’t cure asthma. They do help prevent and relieve asthma symptoms. The two main types of asthma medications are relievers and controllers. Both are important but work in different ways to control asthma.



  • Reduce and prevent inflammation and slow the production of mucus in the airways  
  • Not used in asthma emergencies because they do not open the airways quickly enough  
  • Typically taken twice each day (morning and night) and are therefore not usually needed at school or during daytime activities but used on a daily basis at home
Two orange controllers. One controller is a darker orange colour while the other controller is a lighter orange colour.

Relievers (usually blue):

  • Work quickly (five to ten minutes) to relieve asthma symptoms by relaxing the muscles that wrap around the airways to open up the airways. Giving quick relief from asthma symptoms
  • Used when needed to relieve asthma symptoms
  • Provide relief from symptoms for four to six hours
  • Must always be quickly accessible in case of asthma emergencies
A blue coloured reliever.

SMART-Single Maintenance Reliever Therapy:

  • A single inhaler that contains two medications, an inhaled corticosteroid (budesonide) and a fast-acting bronchodilator (formoterol)
  • Corticosteroid (budesonide) eases swelling and irritation. It lowers inflammation and reduces lung swelling and irritation, which helps improve breathing.
  • The fast-acting bronchodilator (formoterol) works within minutes and can be used to relieve asthma symptoms currently being experienced quickly.
  • Although not common, a student 12 years or older could be prescribed to use this combination SMART therapy to relieve symptoms being experienced instead of a single reliever inhaler.
A white, curved lid encasing SMART reliever with a red bottom.