Asthma medicines

Knowing what asthma medicines are available and knowing yours well will help you manage your asthma.

There are two main types of asthma medicines you need to know about: relievers and preventers.


Relievers are short acting and treat your asthma symptoms after they occur.

Relievers help to quickly reduce wheeze, cough, breathlessness and the tight chest feeling by relaxing the muscles around the airways that have become tight. This opens the airways wider so you can breathe easier again.

  • If you are using your reliever inhaler more than 3 times a week, your asthma is not as controlled as it could be. You should see your doctor to check if other medications are needed.
  • Be careful about over-use of your reliever inhaler. Regularly using more than 6 puffs of reliever every day can cause harmful side effects.

Relievers are often blue in colour and look like in the photo above.


Preventers help to prevent symptoms from happening and work by controlling the swelling and inflammation of your airway.  Most preventers are ICS (inhaled corticosteroid) preventers and must be used everyday to work properly, even when you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. 

  • Many people are concerned about taking medicines with the word steroid in them. When used correctly, preventers are very safe.
  • Some people can get a hoarse voice or oral thrush: rinsing your mouth after using your preventer, or using a spacer, can help prevent this.
  • It is important to get into a routine for taking your preventer, like before brushing your teeth. This will help you remember to take it daily.

ICS Preventers are usually orange or brown in colour and look like in the photo at right.